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Why do all of Gascón’s opponents’ campaign advertisements have a similar appearance?

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Why do Gascón’s challengers’ campaign ads all look the same?

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The ads open with a stirring violin track, the subject striding confidently past the Broadway facade of the L.A. County Hall of Justice, or the Temple Street face of the United States Courthouse, or the Art Deco tower of City Hall.

A piano swells under the strings as the star greets first responders, working families or unhoused people.

The screen flashes to a drone shot of downtown, a quick cut to a closeup of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, and then grainy CCTV video of one of America’s most talked-about crime trends: the “smash and grab.”

If those commercials seem familiar, it’s because L.A. County’s 5 million registered voters are being bombarded with campaign messages that tend to follow a similar script.

The March 5 primary race for district attorney is the most crowded contest in the office’s 174-year history, with 11 candidates running to unseat Gascón as L.A.’s top cop. And yet, in a race defined by the struggle to stand out, the ads flooding YouTube, Instagram and Facebook feel almost identical.

The challengers include Deputy Dist. Attys. Jonathan Hatami, Maria Ramirez and Eric Siddall, defense attorney Nathan Hochman and Judge Craig Mitchell — all of whom have run ads that hit the same notes.

Former federal prosecutor Jeff Chemerinsky, Deputy Dist. Atty. John McKinney and Judge Debra Archuleta use the same music, sweeping aerial shots and crime video quick cuts, but skip the glad-handing and downtown power walk.

Experts say video ads are essential to reaching L.A. County‘s electorate, which is larger than the voter rolls in most U.S. states, including 2020 presidential deciders Arizona, Nevada, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The district attorney’s race has prompted the fundraising to match the office’s high profile, and candidates are pouring cash into their political spots.

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“If you’re trying to reach millions of voters, the most effective, cost-efficient way is to make a video and plaster it on social media,” said Hrag Yedalian of Blue State Campaigns, a political consulting agency that has worked with several local candidates, including Mitchell.

But Yedalian said that in the rush to produce content and avoid controversy, “a lot of these political videos are one of two things: They’re either really predictable or they’re boring — and they can often be both.”

There are only so many ways to frame up a power pose or repackage a viral cellphone video of a crime, and a limited selection of royalty-free classical tracks tagged “inspiration” on clearinghouse sites used by ad producers.

So in a field of 12 politicians gunning for the same job, some aesthetic overlap is inevitable.

But the L.A. ads are dramatically more alike one another than those for prosecutors in Manhattan, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Houston or Chicago — all major metropolitan areas with contested races and similar public safety concerns, in an election year when crime is a political bellwether.

For one thing, the local spots are much slicker.

“Being in the L.A. area, we’re held to a higher standard,” said Emrys Roberts, director of photography for Mitchell’s announcement.

The judge’s video, which was modeled on work for athletic brands, is now a finalist for the political advertising industry’s prestigious Reed Award.

“We looked at: What’s Nike doing? What’s Asics doing?” said Yedalian, who dreamed up Mitchell’s spot. “This is not a campaign ad; it’s a short doc about the realities of Los Angeles and what the judge is doing to combat it.”

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In some ways, the ads for the district attorney’s race reflect the state of American political theater in the movie capital of the world, where rivers of campaign cash flow in and out of Hollywood every election cycle.

Both organized retail theft and the proliferation of encampments contribute to a perception of lawlessness, polls show, regardless of whether they threaten everyday Angelenos or can be mitigated by the district attorney alone.

The sense that the top prosecutor should do more to fix those issues has helped drive Gascón’s current slump and swell the ranks of his challengers. Less than a quarter of voters now approve of him, according to a recent USC-Dornsife poll.

That gets at the third reason most ads look alike: They all share the same heel.

“Everyone is running not against each other, but against Gascón, so the throughline everyone wants is, ‘We want to be tough on crime,’” Yedalian said.

But while Gascón may be the man to beat on Super Tuesday, his challengers have yet to prove themselves the hero, either on-screen or in the polls.

“If you’re just getting the message that you shouldn’t vote for George Gascón … that’s wasted money,” Robinson said.

It’s a point that cold-case prosecutor Lloyd “Bobcat” Masson exploits in his latest video, the forth in a series of DIY hits that feel more like a personal injury attorney’s ads than something for a political campaign.

“My budget’s a lot tinier, so there’s no way I’m going to be able to compete with mass advertising,” Masson said. “We wanted to do something with viral capability.”

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Instead of a traditional ad, he and a pal put together a series of property-crime skits with just a car and two actors — plus an exhaust resonator meant to stand in for a stolen catalytic converter.

This week, he released a fourth video, this one set in the cleaning aisle of a corner store.

“Why are there so many choices?” an actor groans, surveying a shelf of spray bottles — all identical except that each bears the name of a different Gascón challenger. “They all look the same.”

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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