Politicians using reality TV stars to get at their opponents

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A local Assembly race is creating a stir after one candidate hired a reality TV star to take a shot at his opponent, and he’s doing it on Cameo. The candidate under attack is firing back, calling the accusations, anything but reality. 

Cameo is a video-sharing site, where you can pay celebrities to star in the personalized video: birthdays, retirements, and even campaign ads.

Assembly candidate Dave Catalfamo, who is running in the 113th Assembly District seat, has jumped on board.  

Catalfamo paid “Real Housewives of New York” star, Dorinda Medley $150 for what he calls a “spoof” video, mocking his Democratic opponent, Carrie Woerner. 

“I’ve been trying to think of a way to talk about how my opponent votes with New York City Democrats 94% of the time,” Catalfamo said. “I thought a clever way might be to do a Cameo.”

In the short clip, Medley seems to mockingly say, “You live in Saratoga? Which you know is one of my favorite areas ever!”

Woerner lives in Round Lake, and her district covers parts of Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.

However, Catalfamo contends the Democrat has a downstate agenda, and that she votes almost in lock step with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of Manhattan.

In another part of the Cameo clip, Medley says, “the girls, the New York posse wants to just thank you completely…but the whole New York City posse and Carl, especially.”

Woerner declined to do an on-camera interview, but sent NewsChannel 13 this statement that said in part, “At best, this was a childish joke. At worst, he paid someone to lie about me. I am honestly too busy talking with constituents, resolving problems for them, and working on legislation to help our communities to pay attention to cheap political stunts.”

Was Catalfamo’s goal simply to ruffle feathers?

“I hope to ruffle feathers. While the video is tongue in cheek, the issue is not,” he said.

Using Cameo is still a fairly new tactic. It is too early to tell how big of an impact it could have, but using a “housewife” is an interesting pick.

Ron Seyb, a political science professor with Skidmore College, said there is not a lot of overlap between the demographic that watches “The Real Housewives,” and people who are politically engaged.

It can be effective, but it also has the potential to backfire if the viewers are not savvy.

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“There’s kind of layers of meaning you have to go through here to really understand what the message is. Some viewers might think, ‘Oh, she’s really endorsing Carrie Woerner.’ It’s not sarcastic, it’s not irreverent. That’s always a little dangerous in an ad,” Seyb said.

Even though Catalfamo paid Medley $150 for the Cameo, prices vary depending on who you want to star in your production.