I’ve seen some pretty nasty, low-down political ads in my time, but a direct mail ad being run against a Democratic state legislator from East Tennessee by her Republican opponent really takes the cake (per a report from Fox Sports‘ Clay Travis):

Gloria Johnson is an incumbent member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. She’s engaged in a reelection battle with Eddie Smith. And with Alabama [a college football team]mtraveling to Knoxville, Smith just took off the gloves when it comes to East Tennessee political campaigns. He compared Gloria Johnson to Lane Kiffin in a mailed political ad that just went out to voters.

The ad features a picture of Lane Kiffin, with a subtle Alabama A in the background, alongside Gloria Johnson.

Emblazoned in bright letters are the following slogans:

“It’s time to show big talkers like Lane Kiffin and Gloria Johnson that we mean business.”

“Like Lane Kiffin, who made a lot of big promises to Tennesseans, Gloria Johnson went to Nashville claiming she was going to reform health care and create jobs. And like Lane Kiffin, Gloria Johnson didn’t live up to her word.”

For people who need a translation, in 2010 Kiffin abruptly abandoned the football head coaching job at the University of Tennessee–located in Knoxville, the site of Johnson’s district–after just one year to go to the University of Southern California, leaving a big mess (a majority of the star players he recruited soon transferred or got kicked out of school) and a host of bad feelings. Riots actually broke out. And this Saturday Kiffin will finally return to Knoxville as offensive coordinator of UT nemesis the University of Alabama. So yeah, he’s on many voters’ minds, and not in a good way.

Johnson quickly responded with an endorsement from former Vol coach and star player Johnny Majors. That’s fighting far with far, as they’d pronounce it in Knoxville.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.