Ohio: Parties Battle It Out Early in the 6th District
You could excuse voters in Ohio's 6th District for thinking the November elections are right around the corner. With 20 days left before the the state's May 2 primary, both national parties are spending heavily in the southern Ohio district.
All of the dollars are aimed at Democratic state Sen. Charlie Wilson, who was forced to run a write-in candidacy for his party's nomination after failing to collect enough signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Wilson is hoping to win the nomination over two little-known and poorly financed Democrats. Republicans face a primary of their own with state Rep. Chuck Blasdel the heavy favorite.
Seeing an opportunity to win a toss-up seat in May rather than November, the National Republican Congressional Committee has unleashed a series of television ads designed to raise questions in voters' minds about Wilson. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has struck back with ads -- television and radio -- of their own designed to rebut the GOP charges.
The latest Democratic gambit is a radio ad -- more of a country song, really -- that went up in the district today. Produced by media consultant Saul Shorr, the jingle contains lines like, "The second of May is election day/Charlie Wilson wants to be your Congressman," and "George Bush will feel the pain/When you write in Charlie's name." (Listen to the whole song here.)
The DCCC is also sponsoring a television ad in the Youngstown (Ohio) and Wheeling (West Virginia) markets that says Republicans are attacking the Ohio Democrat "because Wilson fought the big oil and gas companies and because Charlie Wilson won't yield to President Bush and Republicans who are taking us the wrong way." The ad is running at 900 gross media points (meaning the average viewer will see it nine times in a week) in both markets and is costing the committee $100,000. The committee has pre-bought television time in the district through the primary, according to sources familiar with the buys.
The NRCC is currently airing a second ad attacking Wilson for serving on a commission that oversaw the dumping on raw sewage into the Ohio River.
The Republican committee ran into some trouble last week when it began airing a follow-up ad alleging that the FBI had conducted an investigation into the dumping. The Wilson campaign and Democrats insisted that was not the case and produced a letter from the bureau that said no such investigation had taken place.
To hear Democrats tell it, the ad was pulled due to inaccuracy. Republicans insist it was simply swapped out for another ad that did not contain the FBI allegation. According to independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the NRCC has spent approximately $194,000 on its ad campaign to date.
Should Wilson emerge as the Democratic nominee, he would begin the general election with a slight edge over Blasdel, who has received his share of bad press lately.
April 12, 2006; 3:18 PM ET
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