Thursday, August 24, 2000

Chabot TV ads to cost $385K

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Third-term congressman Steve Chabot's opponent is a Democrat whose name has never been on the ballot, but the Chabot campaign is taking no chances — it has already bought nearly $400,000 in TV advertising.

        The Chabot campaign's TV blitz began with a relatively modest $34,000 for two commercials — a biographical piece touting the Republican congressman as a family man; and another laying out his opposition to “marriage penalty” and inheritance taxes.

        The Chabot campaign also has bought $351,000 worth of air time on local TV stations beginning in October and leading up to the Nov. 7 election. His opponent, Democrat John Cranley, has yet to buy a minute of commercial air time.

        “It's nothing unusual; we usually get started about this time,” said Chabot campaign spokesman Brian Griffith.

        But Mr. Cranley, the 26-year-old Price Hill Democrat, said the large TV buy — starting well before the traditional Labor Day campaign kickoff, “shows they are taking us seriously.”

        Mr. Chabot spent twice that much on TV advertising in 1998, when his opponent was a better-known and better-funded Democrat — then-Cincinnati mayor Roxanne Qualls.

        But the Chabot campaign has yet to buy any air time in September. Mr. Griffith said the Chabot campaign thinks most voters will be tuning out politics during September, turning their attention to the Olympics.

        “Buying time right after the conventions is a good idea because people are starting to pay attention to the election,” Mr. Griffith said. “Once the Olympics are over, they'll start tuning in again.”

        Mr. Cranley said he will be filming material for campaign commercials today, produced by Peter Fenn, a Washington, D.C., media consultant. The earliest he could be on the air is next week, Mr. Cranley said, but it is more likely Cranley ads will start in September.

        Mr. Chabot certainly will have more money to spend on TV ads than Mr. Cranley.

        Campaign finance reports through June 30 showed Mr. Chabot with $633,772 in the bank, compared with $215,844 for Mr. Cranley.

        Two years ago, national Democratic leaders targeted Mr. Chabot's 1st Congressional District seat, throwing Ms. Qualls — seen as the strongest possible Democratic candidate — against the GOP incumbent. Mr. Chabot won re-election with 53 percent of the vote.

        Although he is much less well known and the race has not been targeted by the Democratic Party, Mr. Cranley — a recent graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School — is convinced he can do what Ms. Qualls could not, by door-to-door grass-roots campaigning and through a series of debates with Mr. Chabot.

       The next Chabot-Cranley debate will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Urban League offices in Avondale.


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