The Democratic ad wars are on! Angelides for Governor campaign manager Cathy Calfo unveiled the state treasurer and current frontrunner’s first TV ad of the season today after I reported yesterday that his rival, Controller Steve Westly, would begin major market advertising today that is slated to continue through the June 6th primary.
Under questioning, Calfo said that the Angelides TV ad will begin airing in “the middle of the week.” A few days after Westly. And that it is a roughly one million dollar media buy which will last for a week, giving it a specific ending date. Asked if Angelides will attempt to match Westly’s ad spending dollar for dollar, Calfo demurred. Asked if the Angelides ad campaign would be continuous through the June 6th primary to match Westly’s plans, she said that Angelides will advertise “throughout” the primary. Which is not the same as advertising continuously during the primary campaign. With such an early start and already trailing in his campaign war chest with higher ongoing campaign costs than Westly, Angelides almost certainly will not be able to match Westly’s advertising.
Just like the Westly buy, the Angelides buy is in three major markets: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. It is also an introductory spot. But unlike Westly’s ad, which is more of a classic introductory biographical spot, the Angelides ad is entirely political in nature. In fact, it doesn’t mention anything about his life aside from politics and doesn’t mention anything about his political life until a few years ago.
The dominant figure in the candidate’s introductory spot may not be Angelides himself, who does not speak, but U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who appears on camera to sing the praises of the former state Democratic chairman who played a pivotal role in her narrow 1992 election victory over Republican commentator Bruce Herschensohn. It also has a much more partisan tone, using the tagline: “”He stood up to Arnold. He’ll stand up for you,” again emphasizing Angelides’ role as the anti-Arnold from day one even when most Democrats were working with Schwarzenegger in his popular early bipartisan mode.
A top Angelides source says the strategy of using Boxer so prominently to introduce a candidate for the state’s top executive post is supported by research showing that she, like Senator Dianne Feinstein, also an Angelides campaign co-chair, is viewed by Democratic voters as a champion against Bush Republicanism nationwide. Making this an interesting attempt to nationalize a statewide race from the beginning of the advertising strategy.
A top Westly source doubts the effectiveness of that strategy, saying that being the anti-Arnold is important to activists but not the broad sweep of Democratic voters. Westly press secretary Nick Velasquez was on hand for the announcement.
Speaking with him later, he talked about his campaign’s view that Westly is better positioned to win the general election and that Angelides is from the beginning going too far left for many Californians. Citing as one aspect Angelides’ support for tax increases. Asked what is Westly’s alternative for eliminating the state’s chronic structural deficit — which is exacerbated by Schwarzenegger’s plan to spend more in this election year — he spoke of the success of Westly’s program to get unpaid taxes paid. Asked if that meant the solution to the chronic budget crisis was to hire more auditors, he said that was not necessarily so, and that “Steve doesn’t rule out a tax hike,” it’s simply not his first reflexive option.