Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memo: Rep. Vern Buchanan reserves $4 million in ads on Tampa Bay TV for his campaign (UPDATED)

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's campaign has reserved $4 million in television advertising to sell local voters on his re-election.

The ad buy was announced a little more than a month after Buchanan's campaign revealed that a poll taken in March showed Buchanan with a 22-percentage-point lead over presumptive Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald, and his pollster told supporters that "Buchanan's brand is strong."

The ads will appear on over-the-air stations in Tampa-St. Petersburg and Sarasota, as well as on cable television channels, starting Aug. 1 and running through Nov. 5. There will be a two-week hiatus in late August, about when the Republican National Convention will be underway in Tampa, according to a memo from Buchanan's media consultant.

"Given that Florida will be inundated with political advertising after Labor Day from the presidential race on down, the Buchanan ads were placed early to guarantee appropriate time slots on superior programming," the memo states.

About $3.3 million will be spent with the four network affiliates in Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, and $350,000 will be spent with the ABC affiliate in Sarasota.  Another $400,000 will be spent on seven cable TV networks aired by Bright House Networks, Verioz Fios and Comcast, with ads appearing 21 to 40 times per network per week.

Local television viewers are likely to see and hear plenty about Buchanan and Fitzgerald later this summer and into the fall. According to Politico, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $2.5 million in ad time in the Tampa Bay television market -- the bulk of which will likely be spent on Fitzgerald's behalf, presuming he remains competitive in the race.

Sally Tibbetts, spokesman for Buchanan's campaign, said the big buy will help Buchanan play both offense and defense in the campaign.

"In Florida's crowded TV market we want to make sure we have the ability to talk about Vern's positive agenda for economic growth and job creation," Tibbetts said in a statement. "We will have the resources necessary to hold Fitzgerald and Nancy Pelosi accountable for their ugly smear campaign.”

Fitzgerald's campaign manager said Buchanan's ad buy signals how desperate the congressman is as he tries to win re-election, while embroiled in questions about his ethics and business dealings.

“Representative Vern Buchanan is on the ropes," Adam Scott said in a statement. "Under constant investigation for ethical misconduct and financial improprieties.  Abandoned by his party leadership.  Laboring at home under his mind-boggling vote to turn Medicare over to the private insurance companies.

"Spending money on TV is all he has left, even as the people of the Suncoast are unlikely to trust what they see when Representative Buchanan's ads go on the air."

DCCC spokeswoman Stephanie Formas said Buchanan's planned ad buy corresponds directly to his ongoing legal issues.

“Congressman Vern Buchanan is spending a million dollars for each federal investigation by the FBI, IRS, a federal grand jury and House Ethics Committee," Formas said in a statement.

As The Hill newspaper notes, Buchanan may have to dip into his personal wealth to pay for some of his campaign advertising. As of March 31, Buchanan's campaign reported having $1.47 million in cash on hand, including $250,000 loaned by Buchanan personally, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Fitzgerald reported having a little more than $422,000 in cash on hand.