LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Hill Harper may have a political problem.

For ten years he served as the spokesperson for Toyota and 6 News pollster Bernie Porn thinks in a crowded Democratic primary, it could be a liability for Mr. Harper.

The Hill Harper for U.S. Senate campaign has been very vocal about his support for striking UAW workers on the picket line. Still, you have to wonder how those strikers, who are not fond of foreign car makers, would feel if they knew Mr. Harper ten years ago did a TV commercial for Japanese carmaker Toyota and his relationship with the foreign car maker included driving a Toyota in a celebrity race years ago.

Is this a political liability for Mr. Harper?

“It could be and probably would be,” says pollster Bernie Porn. “That is something that would be an attack point I think.”

it’s not the first time a candidate with a relationship with Toyota got political hot water.

Former astronaut and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jack Lousma told a group of Japanese business persons that he owned a Toyota.

When Mr. Lousma’s Democratic opponent — Carl Levin — ran that video in a TV commercial.
it damaged the Lousma effort and he lost to Mr. Levin by 5 points. “That ad was a profound impact and this could as well in terms of selling for Toyota,” says Porn. “It would be a problem for him.”

The Harper campaign confirms the candidate did the commercials but it explains that citizens will understand that it is part of the entertainment business to do that.

“Don’t look at it that way,” says Porn. “People are not understanding of that approach. I think that you can get your hands on the ad itself, that will be much more difficult to explain.”

Mr. Harper’s campaign argues, that what happened ten years ago is not as crucial as his support today for the striking autoworkers while others have “sided with management.” His team also points out Harper has a contract with GM.

It should be noted that the Slotkin campaign informed the news media of this story that ran first in the Daily Beast.