Rochester is a mid-sized city with a small town's zeal for gossip. So when a mayor who is not up for re-election until 2017 starts running TV spots, people take notice.
The commercial shows Mayor Lovely Warren with a child -- her daughter, Taylor? -- and touts some of the things happening in the city, such as the project to fill in part of the Inner Loop.
It's a good spot; the mayor is friendly, optimistic, and comfortable in her leadership role. It also feels very much like a campaign ad. So what's going on here?
A statement from Friends of Lovely Warren, the group that paid for the ad, says that Warren has initiated a public awareness campaign to draw attention to the city's progress "as a way to promote the city as the best place for people to consider living, working, and playing in our region."
If you wanted to be suspicious, though, you might cast a glance over at the 25th Congressional District, currently occupied by Democrat Louise Slaughter. Slaughter was considered essentially unbeatable until out of nowhere, Republican Mark Assini, currently Town of Gates supervisor, nearly did just that last year; he lost by fewer than 900 votes.
Assini and Slaughter say they're going to go at it again in 2016. But what if Warren plays the spoiler? City has heard for a long time that Warren may be eyeballing Slaughter's seat. So the ads could be the first step on a path that leads to a Slaughter-Warren primary showdown.
Why not? Slaughter has shown herself vulnerable, Warren has the money, and the mayor is clearly at odds with the leadership of the local Democratic committee, so she probably doesn't feel obligated to support Slaughter.
The ad campaign could be a personal branding effort for the mayor, or maybe it's just what Warren says it is: PR for the city.