Michelle Mosby’s mayoral campaign was unconventional from the start.
The sitting Richmond City Council president announced her candidacy accidentally last summer during a public event held in the building owned by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earlier this winter, she signed on to host a three-day mayoral symposium funded by one of her supporters prior to filling out the proper campaign finance paperwork.
Now, she’s the first declared mayoral candidate with rims.
A Cadillac Escalade EXT, emblazoned with a “Mosby 4 Mayor” decal, was spotted downtown yesterday. The Twitter user (@_Gonzi) who snapped the photo promptly dubbed it the “Michelle Mosby Mobile.”
Mosby did not on Wednesday return multiple requests for comment about her campaign’s new wheels.
At first glance, the vehicle does not appear to have a “paid for” disclaimer required for campaign-funded advertising. State law requires the disclaimer for certain printed materials, like yard signs, bumper stickers or billboards, as well as television and radio ads paid for by a candidate’s political action committee.
Car decals are “not expressly listed” in the law, says Elizabeth Howard, deputy commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections. However, “The board could take that up and consider it printed material that requires a disclaimer” if Mosby’s campaign paid for it, Howard says.
Regulations aside, some may perceive a campaign Cadillac as a political misstep at a time when City Hall is regularly criticized for fiscal mismanagement and 26 percent of Richmond residents live in poverty.
But not so fast, says Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst. The vehicle’s decal is a relatively inexpensive way of increasing Mosby’s visibility and upping her name recognition, he says. It also could distinguish her brand from an ever-growing field of declared and rumored mayoral candidates.
“Certainly, the fact that it’s a bit gaudy will turn some people off, but overall, I don’t see it really having a negative impact on her,” Holsworth says. “You have to find some way of breaking through the noise of 10 people.”
Adds Holsworth, “Given what else is likely to go on in this campaign, this is unlikely to be the most egregious issue that arises.”