Florida: 191 Ads Per Day for Open Seat

Photograph by Melissa Lyttle/The Tampa Bay Times via AP Photo

With the help of Nancy Whitlock, Communications Director of the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, right, candidate for U.S. Congress Alex Sink turns in her mail ballot on Feb. 26, 2014, at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections center in Largo, Fla.

How competitive is an open Florida seat?

About 200 political ads are running per day on television in a vacant Florida congressional district ahead of a special election next week.

Democrat Alex Sink, Republican David Jolly and seven groups active in the March 11 election in the Tampa Bay-area 13th District together paid for ads that ran 2,668 times in a 14-day period ending yesterday —  a rate of 191 ads per day — according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

Sink, Florida’s former chief financial officer, and three groups backing her paid for 1,432 spots during the 14-day period, CMAG data show. Jolly, a former lobbyist and aide to the late Republican Bill Young who represented the district, and four pro-Jolly organizations accounted for 1,236 spots.

Sink and Jolly combined to run just 765 of the 2,668 ads, or 29 percent, underscoring the role that outside groups are playing in the contest. Sink’s spots outnumbered Jolly’s by 468 to 297. Sink is attacking Jolly on abortion and Social Security in a district where 22.1 percent of residents were age 65 or older as of the 2010 census, the fifth-highest percentage in the nation. Jolly’s ad features his mother and aunt as he vows to protect Social Security and Medicare.

The pro-Sink outside campaign is led by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Washington-based political arm of House Democrats that paid for 600 spots during the 14-day period. The DCCC’s ad says Jolly would “take us back” to when insurance companies denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions. The ad doesn’t explicitly mention President Obama’s health-care overhaul.

The DCCC’s counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, accounted for 672 spots. The NRCC’s primary ad attacks Sink on fiscal policy and links her to Obamacare.

Sink’s allies also include House Majority PAC (291 ads), a super-political action committee, and the League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club (73 ads), which support more environmental regulation. Jolly’s supporters include the super-PAC American Crossroads (162 ads), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (54 ads) and the American Action Network (51 ads), a 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy group led by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman.

A special election was called after Young died last October, about halfway through his 22nd term representing an area where he regularly won re-election  by overwhelming margins. Sink, Jolly and their allies together will spend more than $10 million on the race in a Pinellas County-based district that Obama won by about 1 percentage point in the 2012 election.





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