As a consultant, I know how frustrating armchair quarterbacks can be. As a blogger, I love to armchair quarterback. And Kay Hagan has a new ad out, so here goes. 

Hagan’s new spot highlights her credentials as the most moderate Senator. The ad has Hagan to the camera and she looks comfortable and confident. She delivers a good message but misses an opportunity.

In the ad, Hagan says that she’s open to good ideas, both Democrat and Republican, as long as they are good for middle-class families. That’s certainly striking the right tone. And she says she’s “not too far right, not too far left. Just like North Carolina.” And that’s true, too, but she’ll almost certainly get some push back about roadkill. (You know, the old joke about the only thing in the middle of the road.)

Overall, it’s a good, solid spot. It starts to define Hagan as a Senator who reflects the values of the state as a whole. As I’ve said before, being the most moderate Senator in the most competitive state is a good place to be. 

However, I think they missed an opportunity. They could have pushed back against the gridlock that has voters so frustrated. It’s not just that she’s open to any ideas that help the middle class, it’s that Washington needs more Senators like her. We’re not going to get much done as long as the political extremes dominate the debate. 

In doing so, she opens up the possibility of running against Washington and Congress at a time when Congressional approval is in the dumps. It also gives her permission to criticize her own party. It’s not just that she’s a moderate. It’s that she’s willing to take on the broken establishment to fight for those middle class families. 

Moderates can be seen as wishy-washy or they can be seen as independents. Hagan should define herself as the latter and, instead of being open to good ideas, she should be aggressively seeking them out, regardless of who comes out with them. Everybody loves an independent fighter. Remember the old John McCain?

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