‘The Best Political Video of 2024 (So Far)’ Skip to content

‘The Best Political Video of 2024 (So Far)’

Democrats in Kentucky’s 1st District are excited about their candidate – and with good reason.

7 min read

A quartet of veteran Kentucky Democratic activists isn’t surprised that a Mother Jones story about First District congressional hopeful Erin Marshall’s campaign rollout video was headlined “The Best Political Video of 2024 (So Far).” Neither is the Kentucky state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates.

“But with this ad,” wrote David Corn, MJ's Washington bureau chief, “She and her team are showing the Democrats how to fight this battle without flinching.”

Marshall, a 29-year-old single mom from Frankfort who has never run for office, is challenging the district’s Republican incumbent, James Comer, a Trump loyalist and the controversial chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Northern Kentucky Tribune columnist Bill Straub, who’s been needling Comer for months, ID’s him as “R-WhereverHeHangsHisHatIsHisHome.” The U.S. House clerk’s website says Comer’s “hometown” is Tompkinsville. But he also has a house in Frankfort.

Anyway, the video, titled “Our Choice,” is also cheering up a slew of Democrats in a district Republicans have represented since 1995.  Dubbed Kentucky's “Democratic Gibraltar” back in the 1850s, the old First had been rock-solid for Marshall's party for decades before that.

Corn added that the “video works on many levels — all centered on the idea of choice. The short film begins with Marshall talking to an image in a mirror of a younger version of herself. She tells this other Erin that five years earlier she confronted (and the younger Erin will face) a tough choice. When she was 24her IUD failed, and that led to an unintended pregnancy. Comer, she points out, also had something of a choice. She is referring to allegations that an ex-girlfriend of Comer made in 2015, when Comer, then the state agriculture commissioner, was running in the GOP gubernatorial primary. That woman claimed that Comer was physically and emotionally abusive to her when they dated in the early 1990s. And when she became pregnant, she said, he took her to a clinic to receive an abortion. She maintained that Comer became ‘enraged’ when he learned she had written his name as her escort home on one of the forms she was required to fill out. The woman’s mother and her college roommate confirmed key elements of her story. Comer, through a lawyer, denied the allegations. (Comer lost that primary by 83 votes.)”

Party activists Leslie McColgin, Brian Clardy, Jennifer Smith, and Sara Fineman are ready to join Team Marshall. Tamarra Wieder, state PPAA head, is also excited about the pro-choice Marshall. “Kentuckians are coming for Congressman Comer,” Wieder said. “He simply can’t run from his record on abortion or his abject failure to deliver access to basic health care to people across the Commonwealth. Abortion is a winning issue, and it’s encouraging to see candidates who recognize it and place it front and center in their campaigns. We hope more candidates like Erin will continue to do the same. Voters are more disillusioned with politicians who disregard their reproductive rights than ever as they live with the impact of abortion bans daily, and you can count on these frustrations being felt at the polls.”

“Her campaign launch ad resonates,” said McColgin, who lives in rural Graves County and is co-leader of Four Rivers Indivisible, a branch of the national organization.

“Erin Marshall is extremely articulate,” said Clardy, a history professor at Murray State University. “She is very direct. She’s on message and she’s focused.”

“Extraordinarily impactful,” Smith said of the video. She’s a former McCracken County Democratic party chair from Paducah, the county seat.

“She powerfully tells us the story of two outspoken critics of women’s freedom — Comer and Trump — and how we can change this wave of dominance,” said Fineman, a member of the Calloway County Democratic committee. She lives in Murray, the county seat.

Last year, Kentucky voters rejected the Republican-backed Amendment 2, which would have changed the state constitution to say it didn’t include the right to an abortion. It failed at the ballot box by 52.3 to 47.7 percent. 

Even so, abortion is still banned in most cases in Kentucky. The state has some of the country’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws. Passed by the GOP-supermajority General Assembly and upheld by the state supreme court, the legislation outlaws abortions after six weeks and permits later abortions only to save the patient's life or to prevent serious harm.

Four Rivers Indivisible joined forces with Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates and other groups to defeat the amendment. “Many times I spoke with people, mostly women, who were very quick to say, ‘I am firmly pro-life but I work in a domestic violence shelter’ or ‘I see what women are dealing with’ or ‘I had an ectopic pregnancy myself; I had a failed pregnancy and needed a DNC’ or ‘I had a relative who was raped,’” said McColgin.

“Over-and-over, I heard from people who said, ‘I am firmly pro-life but there need to be exceptions.’ We all know that the current laws that are written don’t trust women and doctors to do the right thing.”

“I know some of those people who ran against Comer, and I don’t mean to attack them personally, but no one has been able to take the fight to Jamie Comer the way Erin Marshall has,” said Clardy, who has been a Kentucky delegate to Democratic national conventions. “She has the gravitas to do that and apparently the resources to do that, and that’s a huge difference.”

Added Clardy: “Jamie Comer has embarrassed this district and he has embarrassed this commonwealth. Now we have a candidate able to point that out to voters and let voters in the First Congressional District know that they can do better and should do better.”

In a recent column, headlined “Jamie Comer, alias Comer Pyle, has proved to be an abject failure; no facts on his side,” Straub wrote that “Comer, who, for all the world, comes across as an extra in a regional theater production of Li’l Abner, has spent a substantial amount of time, energy, and ignorance over the past year and two months making the case that President Biden, the seemingly mild-mannered grandpa-like figure puttering around the White House lawn, is really the leader, the copo di tutti copi, of the biggest crime syndicate to threaten the American Way of Life™ since Whitey Bulger ran Boston.”

He concluded, “It is hard to imagine an inquiry of this stature being conducted in a more abysmal fashion. Comer undertook this operation simply to enhance Republican chances at the polls and his effort has resulted in an avalanche of innuendo and lies. As one Democratic committee member put it, the probe has uncovered more evidence against Trump than it has against Biden.”

“The quality of that video gives me a fair amount of confidence in her and her team,” said Smith.

She knows Marshall will have a tough time beating Comer, who represents arguably the most conservative district in the state. But Smith said pro-choice Democrats winning in other states gives her “a lot of hope. We need more women like her to have the courage to run. It will encourage other women to step in the ring.”

Smith expects conservative churches to denounce Marshall for being an unwed mother. “They’re going to be wagging a finger and talking about her morals. But we have all these men like Trump running who have zero morals. I’m excited to knock doors for her.”

Fineman said Corn “was right when he said Erin Marshall’s video is a powerful message. All women should be able to make decisions about their health within the confines of those we love and our medical providers.  Having the right to reproductive care, fighting back on the ‘pink tax,’ and ending domestic violence are issues critical to the dignity, health, and economic security of women. Erin Marshall is so incredibly honest and direct on what matters to all women: the right to choose.  She reminds us not to back down and to be part of the change that needs to happen now.”

In the video, according to Corn, Comer comes across as “the ultimate abortion hypocrite. As a lawmaker, he would deny women abortions after allegedly assisting his college girlfriend in choosing that option. ‘For congressmen like him, it’s just a game,’ Marshall says to the other Erin in the mirror. ‘To dehumanize women and put our lives in danger.’ And she notes that in the aftermath of Dobbs — the Supreme Court decision that she rightfully blames on Donald Trump — more than 60,000 women have become pregnant after being raped in states that ban abortion. As a 5-year-old boy enters the room and Marshall picks him up, she tells young Erin, ‘You were in the same situation as James Comer, and this was the choice you made.’ It’s her son Teddy.”

He credited Marshall with “a savvy jiu-jitsu move. Presuming the allegations are accurate, here is an advocate for women’s freedom who chose not to have an abortion juxtaposed with an aggressive supporter of banning the procedure who decades ago helped his girlfriend obtain an abortion. Who is principled, and who’s the phony?”

Corn acknowledged that Marshall “has a steep uphill climb in this race.” Comer piled up almost 75 percent of the vote in 2022, but against a Democrat who was largely unknown and underfunded. It seems likely Marshall will be amply funded to get her message out and gain the name recognition she needs.

Too, if McColgin, Clardy, Smith, and Fineman are the rule, not the exception, Marshall is bridging a Grand Canyon-wide enthusiasm gap among First District Democrats who haven’t had a viable congressional candidate to vote for in years.

“This is going to be a very exciting race,” Clardy said. “I think Comer is more vulnerable than he realizes.”


Want more information about Marshall or donate to her campaign? Click here

Print Friendly and PDF

Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

Arlington, KY