In a controversial new campaign ad, Dana Nessel, a Democratic candidate for Michigan attorney general, has a question for voters: Which candidate do you trust most to not be a sexual harasser?
“If the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that we need more women in positions of power, not less,” Nessel says in the ad.
“So, when you’re choosing Michigan’s next attorney general, ask yourself this: Who can you trust most not to show you their penis in a professional setting?" she asks. "Is it the candidate who doesn’t have a penis? I’d say so.”
The ad comes after a flurry of high-profile sexual harassment accusations, including ones aimed at US politicians: Sen. Al Franken, Senate candidate Roy Moore, and Rep. John Conyers, who represents Michigan.
Nessel is running to be nominated in a race that could result in an "all-female ticket," a concept that has faced major pushback, she says in the ad.
"Pundits and insiders are asking, 'Can we afford to have a female governor, a female attorney general, and a female secretary of state?'" says Nessel. "Well, I read the news, and I bet you do too. And it has me wondering — can we afford not to?"
As assistant prosecutor, Nessel previously prosecuted sexual abuse cases and fought to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption in Michigan in 2015.
In her ad, Nessel promises voters she "will not sexually harass my staff" and "won't tolerate it in your workplace either."
"I won't walk around in a half-open robe, and I'll continue to take all sex crimes seriously, just like I did as a prosecutor," she says.
"You won't find me using your hard-earned tax dollars to silence victims or join right-wing lawsuits that make it harder for you to get health insurance," she says. "I'll be too busy doing what I've always done: going to bat for the people who need it most, and winning."
"Yes, I'm a woman," she concludes. "That's not a liability — that's an asset."
Nessel has received national support for her ad, with people across the country saying they'd vote for her.
Many people have come out in support of the idea of the all-female ticket.
Though opposers of Nessel have criticized the ad as "classless."
In an email to BuzzFeed News, Nessel said that she didn't think her ad should be so controversial.
Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Julia Reinstein at email@example.com.
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