Jim the Election Guy: Who is he?

WASHINGTON — The star of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign ads this fall is a dashing young gentleman named “Jim the Election Guy,” who advises viewers against voting for “Taxin’ Tarryl Clark.”

Team Clark, suspecting that Jim not only wasn’t of the 6th District but that he’s not actually named Jim at all, responded with a series of ads featuring several versions of “Jim the Actual Voter” and blasting Bachmann’s Jim as a “fake.”

So who is the real Jim?

Well, multiple sources confirmed Wednesday that Jim is actually Beau Peregino, an actor who studied theater at Towson University in Maryland and lives now in California. Asked to verify the connection, Jay Herzog, a theater professor of Peregino’s at Towson, confirmed on seeing the ads in question that “that’s absolutely Beau.”

Beau Peregino
Beau Peregino

You probably haven’t heard of Peregino, whose experience largely consists of advertising spots, local theater in Maryland and some minor one-episode roles in television shows.

Those directly involved with the ad declined to comment on Peregino’s role as Jim. Peregino himself did not return multiple requests for comment, and a woman who answered the phone at his casting agency said it was standard practice not to disclose information about bookings.

Actors in ads: Does it matter?

The Bachmann camp refused to confirm or deny Peregino’s casting while questioning the value of the question itself.

“The point of the ad is not who he is,” said Sergio Gor, Bachmann’s campaign spokesman, “it’s that Tarryl Clark is in favor of raising taxes on everything.”

Clark campaign spokeswoman Carrie Lucking countered that the question is certainly relevant, given that he has become the face of Bachmann’s campaign messaging strategy. “Michele Bachmann has a fake Jim, a paid actor hurling allegations that are unfounded,” Lucking said, referring to one of the ads that media fact-checkers declared lacking in facts.

“It’s pretty unprecedented to use a paid actor from outside Minnesota,” Lucking said. “Who knows if this guy’s even met Michele Bachmann?”

Use of paid actors in ads isn’t exactly uncommon in political advertising, particularly for voice-overs. Further, an informal survey I did of campaign strategists found that most paid actors who fully appear in campaign ads reside in the state the commercial will run in. Rare, but not unheard of, is the paid actor whom the campaign isn’t already intimately acquainted with.

The preference is generally to have the candidate, candidate’s family or a voter do the talking. Examples of that are in the governor’s race, where the mother of a drunk driving victim hits Tom Emmer over charges that he drove drunk, and in a lighthearted pro-Emmer spot featuring his kids describing their dad as one who appreciates the values of hard work.

Not only do real voters have the benefit of speaking from personal experience, they are also usually fully known to the campaign they’re stumping for. Paid actors, while able to effectively deliver a line on cue, can sometimes be a bit of a distraction when those unknowns are discovered.

In the 2006 Senate election, the old lady on a bench with Mark Kennedy asking why he was saying nasty things about Amy Klobuchar (“Because they’re true,” he replied) was a paid actor who turned out to be an undecided voter. More recently and more famously, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 3 a.m. ad in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries (asking voters which candidate they’d want dealing with a national emergency at 3 a.m.) used stock footage of a little girl who turned out to have grown up into a 19-year-old Obama supporter.

Often, however, the use of actors in ads is discussed at some point by the chattering classes but ultimately ignored by voters at the polls.

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Comments (29)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/09/2010 - 05:53 am.

    A basic issue in any election is, “Is he, or in this case she, one of us or one of them?” This is always a particular problem for incumbents because challengers will ask, in effect, has this person “gone Washington”. Michele’s use of an inauthentic, out of state actor opens up her vulnerability on this issue. By introducing “Jim” as a continuing character, to some degree, Michele was creating a character she was asking voters to rely upon. The Clark’s brilliant response using the actual Jims, highlighted the falseness, and the inauthenticity, of the Jim campaign, and by a very short extension, Michele herself.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/09/2010 - 06:52 am.

    I think we should investigate who Clark’s “Jims” are. Check their addresses to see if they really live in the district. Which union do they belong to? (because you know they’re unionists, no real working person would support Clark). How much were they paid? Is it true that one of their kids is actually a college republican? We need to know the truth, dammit!
    /sarc

  3. Submitted by Chris Steller on 09/09/2010 - 06:58 am.

    Jim the Election Guy may not be able to vote in the Sixth District, but people in the Sixth District can vote for him … to win a walk-on role on “Mad Men” http://blogs.amctv.com/mad-men/2010/08/banana-republic-casting-call-standings.php

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/09/2010 - 07:12 am.

    “Which union do they belong to? (because you know they’re unionists, no real working person would support Clark).”

    This election seasons I am putting together a collection of statements that Republicans believe which are not true. You have just provided a contribution.

    “Republicans believe that union members are not real, and do not work.”

    Thank you for that.

  5. Submitted by Kimbers Cadieux on 09/09/2010 - 07:13 am.

    “The preference is generally to have the candidate, candidate’s family or a voter do the talking.”

    I wonder if it’s a preference or more of a past practice born of limited advertising budgets?

    Most local campaigns don’t have the sheer amount of money that’s being poured into the 6th.

  6. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 09/09/2010 - 07:24 am.

    Clearly Bachmann’s “Jim” is a fake. Otherwise, he would have known that the same corn-dog-tax-raisin’ constitutional amendment that he rips Tarryl Clark for supporting was supported by Michele Bachmann as well.

    http://tinyurl.com/bachmann-taxes-corn-dogs

    Furthermore, we all know that Bachmann likes to pal around with fake people. She took a $10,000 contribution from a fake “Bobby Thompson” last April, and now her pal “Bobby” is wanted nationwide for bilking people out of millions of dollars meant for veterans widows and orphans.

    http://tinyurl.com/bobby-thompson-warrant

  7. Submitted by Tony George on 09/09/2010 - 07:51 am.

    I suppose if you have Target Corporation money supporting your far right politcal campaign, you can afford to hire paid actors named Jim from California to act in your campaign spots.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/09/2010 - 08:04 am.

    I think the real tactical point here has to go to Clark. One thing that is not in dispute is that Bachmann’s “Jim” ads have already been made, and they were not cheap. If this controversy renders them irrelevant in the minds of the voters, it’s a serious and expensive misfire for Bachmann.

  9. Submitted by Grace Kelly on 09/09/2010 - 08:43 am.

    Hmm, in the last line “the chattering classes” is a very derogatory term for democracy, is that what this author thinks about democracy?

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/09/2010 - 09:18 am.

    LOL! Thanks for this Derek, it really lightened up my morning!

  11. Submitted by Joe Schweigert on 09/09/2010 - 09:33 am.

    @Grace

    This is what he thinks of American politics. Democracy is completely different.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/09/2010 - 09:39 am.

    I think Clark’s Jim ads are great. What I think is at least an interesting idea is to break them out of the cyberworld. Tarryl’s Jim, instead of just talking about a corn dog, could be pictured actually eating a corn do at the real state fair.

  13. Submitted by John Reinan on 09/09/2010 - 10:38 am.

    Derek is absolutely right about the chattering classes. People who are into politics will be interested in this. But that’s inside baseball. For the average voter, it won’t even register.

    Remember, even in a presidential year, only two-thirds of Minnesotans vote. I don’t know how much that drops in mid-term elections, but basically only about half the people are even going to vote in this election.

    So of that 50% of the population who even bother to vote, how many of them do you think are paying attention two months before to the election to a kerfuffle about an actor starring in a political ad?

    I’m not saying Clark shouldn’t make an issue of it — in a battle like this, you’ve got to use every possible bit of ammo. But I doubt this will swing many votes.

  14. Submitted by myles spicer on 09/09/2010 - 10:44 am.

    After having been in the ad agency business for 45 years, my complaint is NOT that Bachmann used an actor not named “Jim” — it is that she paid an actor from outside the state (instead of adding to her own district’s economy), when the Twin Cities and environs a famous for their ad talent. Many agencies come HERE for talent — she went elsewhere. Why? I guess it is just to add to her already pile of hypocracy.

  15. Submitted by B Maginnis on 09/09/2010 - 10:48 am.

    Heh.

    This guy’s background has now been looked into more than Barry Hussein’s!

    God bless America!

  16. Submitted by Zaba Zoom on 09/09/2010 - 11:53 am.

    The point is, besides bachmann’s jim is “Dashing”, bachmann doesn’t care if it is fake. She can’t tell the difference.

  17. Submitted by Ray H. on 09/09/2010 - 12:18 pm.

    I prefer “wide stance guy” to “Jim.” When I see the ads, I can’t stop wondering if he just finished doing some squats in the gym or maybe he rode up to the commercial shoot on a horse.

  18. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 09/09/2010 - 12:26 pm.

    You can’t make this stuff up. Jim is really Beau. Beau? What a California, Hollywood, made-up name. I’ll be there aren’t five Beaus in all of the Sixth District.

    And his only roles have been “Stealing History” and “Gateway of Hell”. I can’t think of two more apt names for someone who represents that flake Bachmann and her ultra-hyper conservatives.

  19. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/09/2010 - 02:29 pm.

    Sorry, but I recognize Bachmann’s Beau, oops! I mean “Jim’s” type. He’s the kind of guy that, if I went to a car dealership and smiling, sincere, over-earnest, “you can trust me!” Jim were the first salesman to approach me, I’d go find a different dealership to work with.

    Of course I wouldn’t buy a used car from Mickey Bachmann either (or a used political campaign, for that matter), so I suppose the choice is apt.

  20. Submitted by Norman Larson on 09/09/2010 - 03:25 pm.

    Ray, you are kind to refer to Beau Jim as wide-stanced. I thought he was bow-legged. Someone told me that his position is supposed to indicate he’s macho.

  21. Submitted by John Jordan on 09/09/2010 - 03:51 pm.

    This non-issue is Taxin’ Tarryl’s attempt to distract people from the issue presented by Bachmann’s ads; that she’s a tax-loving liberal who’s never seen a tax she didn’t like.

    The fact is, Clark loves raising taxes. She LUUUVVVVVS raising taxes. And because they know the commercials are effectively communicating that TRUTH they’re looking for something, anything, to distract from that message.

    Fortunately for the voters of the sixth district there is but one result for this attempt: Fail. Voters know the truth and Bachmann’s on her way back to office.

  22. Submitted by Renee Murray on 09/09/2010 - 05:43 pm.

    The Bachmann ad doesn’t pass the truth test, as fact checked by reputable outlets. Clark voted to cut both property taxes and state spending (the state budget was cut by billions last session).

    Bachmann’s message is just as phony as her fake Jim.

    Bachmann supported the same amendment that Clark supported, to put a vote for the legacy tax (constitutional amendment to raise taxes 3/8 percent) on the voter’s ballot (it passed).

    “Wanna buy some crayons? She’s got a sales tax increase for that … Buy a backpack? She’s got a tax for that, too.”

    This is a reference to the voter-approved Legacy Amendment, a connection dubbed misleading and wrong by Politifact and KSTP’s Truth Test, which gave Bachmann’s last ad an overall D+. [http://minnesotaindependent.com/64505/mpr-bachmann-ad-wrong-on-corn-dog-tax AND http://kstp.com/news/stories/S1731503.shtml?cat=1%5D

    In fact, Bachmann herself apparently supported the Legacy Amendment, so Bachmann is attacking her opponent for an Amendment that she herself supported. “Coleman, Bachmann and Franken spoke in August at Game Fair in Anoka of their support of the Clean Water amendment. Coleman and Bachmann also displayed blaze orange “Sportsmen vote yes” placards in their Game Fair booths,” according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune on 10/23/08. [http://www.startribune.com/sports/33174964.html]

    http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/2010/09/tarryl-clark-responds-to-michele.html

    If Bachmann wants “Jim” to attack Tarryl he needs to get his facts straight first.

  23. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/09/2010 - 06:01 pm.

    It’s OK — Bachmann hasn’t been spending much time in Minnesota these days either.

  24. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/09/2010 - 07:15 pm.

    Personally, I’d rather elect a candidate whose approach to issues is based on the lives of actual people and the way the economy actually works and who uses logic and reason in devising solutions to current problems, even if that includes raising the occasional tax as opposed to…

    A candidate whose ideas seem to be based on channeling the paranoia of a certain late congressman from Wisconsin coupled with the angry, rambling novels written by a third rate author and intellectual midget who seemed to think it was the fault of everyone else in the world that she never grew wealthy enough in her own life to satisfy her psychologically dysfunctional and insatiable need for money and God knows what else. Do the initials A.R. ring a bell?

    Just a clue to A.R.’s chief problem… The world is never held up by an oligarchy of self righteous, self important people at the top of whatever system humans have devised at any given time.

    It is always held up by all those people whom A.R. disdainfully regarded as leaches who were preventing the poor, downtrodden rich people such herself from getting rich enough to feel satisfied (when in reality, her dissatisfaction arose from deep within herself and resulted from her own psychological dysfunctions).

    The truth is for people like A.R. and her admirers NOTHING will satisfy them. ENOUGH is a concept that their psyches will not allow them ever to experience.

    “The fault [was] not in [those other people] dear [Ayn]. It was in [yourself].”

    The fact that Mickey Bachmann follows so closely in the footsteps of J.M. and seems to draw her economic ideals from A.R. disqualifies her from being capable of anything useful to the State of Minnesota or the United States of America. She lives in some completely other realm, and although she might be adept at solving the problems she finds there, those problems have nothing to do with what’s happening, here, where the rest of us live.

  25. Submitted by Steve Rose on 09/10/2010 - 07:03 am.

    I think that Tarryl’s real-Jim ad comes off as remarkably whiny.

    Myles (#15): Do you really support employment discrimination? “You’re not from the right neighborhood; you don’t get the job!” Did you conduct yourself that way in business? Now, there are laws against that treatment of people.

    Hiram (#13): There is no real state fair between September 9th and election day. That makes it hard to eat a corn dog there.

  26. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 09/10/2010 - 12:50 pm.

    How naive can a reporter or a viewer be not to know that paid actors are used in most political ads? This discussion and feigned outrage are just plain laughable.

  27. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 09/11/2010 - 06:08 am.

    Traditionally, political ads are shot by out of region agencies. Political campaigns are typically short-term work and other potential local customers can hold a grudge. In a commercial an actor using a first name is usually not considered an “identity” like “Prince” the musician. The “outing” of the fake “Jim” might get a few votes but it is mostly “preaching to the choir”.

    On the other hand this could backfire. There is the perception that the “mainstream media” looks only at conservative peccadilloes.

    Example one is Kieth Ellison’s parking tickets, ect. Example two is the shtick a few years back of “long time republicans” who supported a democrat when FERC and public records showed a long time involvement in Democratic politics with party positions and a FERC pattern of donations to democrats. The mainstream media ignored that but it was all over the conservative internet.

    The “gotcha” on “Jim” might get a few votes for a “hip” factor but the “real Jims” are definitely not “hip” and they seem to focus on the government spending money on them.

    Basically, we can expect two-thirds of potential voters here to vote in this election so increasing that is the key to getting more votes. Just before the August primary one TV station did a street survey showed that half the urban adults were not aware that the primary was in August.

    If you follow politics at all you probably heard at least a hundred references to the August primary on TV and newspapers.

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