Terry McAuliffe is hoping to gain support from Taylor Swift fans in his race to become Virginia’s next governor.
The Democrat has purchased a series of digital ads that connect his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, to the sale of Swift’s master recordings, which the singer described as her “worst-case scenario.” Youngkin is the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, which backed the sale of Swift’s former label Big Machine Records to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings.
According to The Verge, McAuliffe spent five figures on the ad targeting voters who are fans of Swift and engage with content across Facebook, Instagram and Google. An ad reads, “Did you know that Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, helped buy Taylor Swift’s masters out from under her when he was co-CEO of Carlyle Group?”
The ads also contain images of Swift and Youngkin and the hashtag #WeStandWithTaylor, which fans used to support the singer amid the controversy.
In 2019, Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group — and with it, the entire catalog Swift released via the Scott Borchetta-owned label — in a $300 million deal. Following the deal, Swift took to Tumblr to reveal that she learned about it “as it was announced to the world,” and the news reminded her of the “incessant, manipulative bullying” she “received at [Braun’s] hands for years.”
In a 2019 tweet, Swift asked The Carlyle Group to intervene after Braun and Borchetta, she claimed, prevented her from performing her music at the American Music Awards, where she was set to receive the Artist of the Decade award. She also said Borchetta and Braun had declined a request to use her older music and performance footage for the Netflix documentary Taylor Swift: Miss Americana.
“I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men,” Swift tweeted at the time.
More than a year later, Braun sold the master rights to the singer’s first six albums to Shamrock Holdings. At the time, Swift revealed on Twitter that her team received a letter from the private equity company informing them that it had bought all of her music, videos and album art from Braun. “This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge,” Swift wrote.
Determined to own her music, Swift announced she would re-record her first six albums and has since released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and will unveil Red (Taylor’s Version) in November.
Youngkin’s campaign spokesperson Christian Martinez told Axios of the Swift ads, “Terry McAuliffe has reached the stage of desperation in his campaign where he’s rolling out the most baseless attacks to see what sticks. It’s a pathetic fall that could only be achieved by a 43-year political hack.”
🎤 Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is tugging on the heart strings of Taylor Swift fans with new digital ads highlighting rival Glenn Youngkin’s bad blood with the music star.https://t.co/BWVbnzf9mK pic.twitter.com/DEIz13EvbY
— Axios (@axios) October 5, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to reps for Swift, McAuliffe and Youngkin.