Gubernatorial candidates launch TV battle
July 24, 2007
By John Hill
REGISTER HERE NOW
BATON ROUGE – The governor’s race kicks off with a big bang today, when Republicans Bobby Jindal and John Georges launch huge television ad campaigns.
Georges, a wealthy New Orleans businessman, has the largest buy: $2 million for the month of August, a larger buy than $1.3 million campaign state Sen. Walter Boasso, D-Chalmette, aired in June.
Jindal’s buy is a two-week campaign, but campaign manager Timmy Teepell said they will not discuss details.
The Louisiana Democratic Party is not far behind, planning an August buy of nearly $1 million that will attack Jindal’s congressional voting record, party officials said.
The television battles will likely be relentless until the Oct. 20 primary.
“With the launching of Bobby Jindal’s and John Georges’ media blitzes, I think it is fair to say the political season has begun in earnest,” said Pearson Cross, University of Louisiana-Lafayette political scientist.
“For those people who don’t like politics, it is going to be a long, long campaign – despite the fact that it is going to be over fairly quickly by the calendar.”
Jindal, the U.S. congressman from Metairie, has not advertised in five of the state’s seven major media markets since he lost the 2003 governor’s race to Democrat Kathleen Blanco, Teepell said.
“So this is really the start of the campaign for him,” Teepell said.
The Louisiana Republican Party, which has endorsed Jindal, is holding back for now, said chairman Roger Villere. But if Georges or Boasso start to move up, “then obviously, everything is on the table,” he said.
“Now that Bobby has officially announced, I think you’ll see a much higher level of activity statewide in the governor’s race,” Villere said. The Republican Party is taking Georges’ threat seriously because Georges’ has put up some much money.
Jindal and Georges have the largest campaign treasuries, according to financial disclosure reports filed Monday.
Jindal had $6.4 million in the bank after having spent more than $1 million, mostly on salaries, printing and consultants during the reporting period April 14 through July 12. Georges, after having spent some $377,000, had $7 million in the bank, $6.3 million of it a loan to his campaign from personal funds.
Boasso, who reported spending $1.6 million during the reporting period, reported having $232,000 left. Boasso, however, is, like Georges, a wealthy businessman who said he is prepared to spend what it takes. Boasso said he would have another buy to match his $1.1 million June buy that will start next week.
“We are staying on our program and we’ll be back soon,” Boasso said. He spent $1.3 million to produce and air an introductory campaign in June.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, D-Elm Grove, said he is holding his $2 million television budget for later. His campaign spending report released Monday showed $1.3 million in the bank as of July 12.
Campbell said he’s not worried about the big buys that begin airing today.
“Jindal has big business with him and Georges is wealthy, but this is not an auction; this is an election,” Campbell said.
Georges’ buy will be as high as 1800 points in some markets, which means that the average television viewer will see his ads at least 18 times in a week.
This will be many voters introduction to Georges, who has been quietly traveling the state. “These present me as a family man and a business man,” Georges said. “These are to let people know who I am. You need to know people before you are willing to listen to them,” he said.
Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington said the party will also have an 1800-point buy targeting Jindal that will begin “within 10 days.”
“It’s a big bang,” Whittington said. “It is going to be truthful about his votes. A lot of people don’t know about his votes, and we’re going to educate them. A lot of people are not going to like it very much.”
The Louisiana Democratic Party has been critical of Jindal’s votes against the Iraq spending bills that also contained money for Louisiana’s hurricane recovery.
Republicans will respond.
Roy Fletcher, the Baton Rouge media consultant, has been hired by the Louisiana Republican Party to produce ads on behalf of Jindal, including answering attacks.
“We won’t start until later, at the proper time,” Fletcher said Tuesday.
Fletcher, a 30-year veteran of the Louisiana political scene, said the campaigns have, until now, been relatively quiet.
“I’ve never seen so little this far out,” Fletcher said.
Miss a day. Miss a lot. Get all the who, what, when and where delivered to your home.
Sign up today for 7-day delivery of The Times and get a FREE gift.
Click here to start your subscription.
July 24, 2007