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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Let the G-20 political opportunism begin! (updated)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 5:41 AM

I note that in an earlier blog post here, someone posted a link to this Youtube video last night. It's a 30-second spot -- with fairly polished production values -- that accuses mayoral candidate Dok Harris of spending the G-20 at a high-end spa in Bedford. It ends with a faux campaign logo that reads "Dok W. Bush for Bedford ... Go to the Spa!"

The same Youtube account -- "Dok W. Bush" -- has a couple video segments that mock some of Harris' campaign appearances. And then a 10-second spot that cryptically asks "Who is Alejandro Sparras? And what does he have to do with Dok Harris? Find out soon."

Sounds ominous, but a few seconds of googling suggests that "Alejandro Sparras" is Harris' role-playing persona. You may recall that Harris' fondess for role-playing games earned him the attention of blogger Matt Hogue a few months ago, and in fact while the video was posted on Youtube just seven hours ago as I write this (a bit before 7 a.m.), Hogue's blog already has the Bedford video on his site. Hogue, of course, supports Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and his blog was also the first stop for videos attacking rival Patrick Dowd in the spring primary this year.

I'll get the Harris camp's response to the Bedford allegation as soon as I can. (They appear to be aware of the attacks: "Dok W. Harris" complains of efforts by the Harris camp to take down other videos, and the same commenter who posted on this blog yesterday originally linked to a video that has been taken down "due to a copyright claim by Harris for Pittsburgh.")

In the meantime, I fully admit this is speculation, but this just feels like an attack by Team Ravenstahl. The maximal snarkiness ... the high-end production ... the early appearance on Hogue's site ... it all fits.

UPDATE: Spoke with Harris this morning about the video. He acknowledges that, yes, he was at the Bedford spa during the G-20. Like a lot of Pittsburghers, he says, he realized that G-20 Pittsburgh was not going to be a place where he could get much done ... so he scheduled a break for himself months ago. 

" I live on Fifth Avenue, not far from our offices [in Oakland]. I was right in the epicenter of where things were going down. While being trapped in my apartment is a good idea, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to interface with anyone [druing the summit]." Harris has raised questions about Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's willingness to host the summit: "We have thousands of police defending a ghost town, and a child on the North Side is killed on his couch." But once the summit came to town, "What am I going to do? Throw a rock?"

So Harris says he used some membership-reward points on his credit card and went to the spa. The plan was to "do some research and debate prep, and relax before October wacky season starts and I'm getting only a couple hours of sleep a night.

"I did not, however, get a massage," Harris adds, "and I'm sorry I didn't." 

And who might have authored the video? "I don't know, but Karl Rove is unemployed right now," Harris says. "I'm waiting to see the next one: 'Dok Harris is fat. He's no good at sports. He was involved in theater.' I think you're going to hear a lot about what a nerd I am. And I am an enormous nerd." The "Alejandro Sparras" character, he says, dates back to the late 1990s.

"On a certain level, I'm kind of flattered to be the number-one threat in this campaign," Harris adds. "And 'Dok W. Bush' is pretty funny."

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