Democrats cancel ad purchases in Philadelphia-area races

Posted: October 12, 2012

The national Democratic Party's congressional campaign arm has pulled $1.1 million of television ad buys out of Philadelphia, a strong signal that four races the party had targeted in the region are slipping out of reach.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week canceled ads slated to run Oct. 25 to 29, a period that precedes the Nov. 6 general election by just one week.

Republicans said they promptly followed suit, canceling about $700,000 worth of television ads in the same time frame in order to put their money into other races.

Democrats said they hadn't given up trying to oust House incumbents Mike Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan, Jim Gerlach and South Jersey's Jon Runyan, all in suburban districts that have been competitive in recent years. But political analyst Chris Borick said the spending decisions suggested both parties thought those GOP-held seats were safe.

"That's one of the most significant signs that the parties are not considering the state in play. Money follows the priorities of the parties, and they put the money where they think they can best use it and where they think there's the best chance of leveraging changed results," said Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College. "If parties are at any time cutting and running from any media buy, that means they consider it either a safe bet [for incumbents] or a cause not worth throwing money into."

Cutting ad expenses here gives party strategists a chance to shift finite resources to races elsewhere that look more winnable, he said.

Local challengers Kathy Boockvar, George Badey, Manan Trivedi, and Shelley Adler had all been on the Democrats' national list of high-priority hopefuls for regaining ground in a GOP-controlled House. The $1.1 million in ad purchases could have been used to help any of those four. Boockvar, running against Fitzpatrick, and Adler, challenging Runyan, were widely seen as the strongest Democratic contenders in the region.

One Democrat said the party was hoping for help locally from the president's coattails.

"With President Obama running strong in the Philadelphia suburbs and the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] following Mitt Romney and cutting out, we are confident that our strong Democratic challengers in the area will be able to capitalize on their opponents' toxic records," said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Nat Sillin, a spokesman for the GOP's national congressional campaign arm, said the Democrats' ad cancellation reflected a realization that "these campaigns are sinking."

Boockvar and Trivedi said Tuesday they had strong fund-raising results in the previous quarter, bringing each beyond $1 million.

Even those amounts, though, will leave the Democrats trailing their opponents in fund-raising and spending, especially after the cancelled ad purchases.


Contact Jonathan Tamari at jtamari@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @JonathanTamari. Read his blog, "Capitol Inq," at www.philly.com/CapitolInq.

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