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Carson Uses Oklahoma Tornado Footage in Attack Ad

Rep. Brad Carson (D) unveiled a new ad Tuesday that hits former Rep. Tom Coburn (R) for his vote against disaster relief after devastating tornadoes ripped through the state in 1999, killing 44 people.

“Oklahoma leaders voted for disaster relief. But Tom Coburn said we didn’t need disaster relief. He called it ‘malarkey’ and voted no,” an announcer says as destruction footage rolls and ominous music plays. “Tom Coburn turned his back on disaster victims. Why would we ever elect him our Senator?”

The text of the ad also features quotes from then-Oklahoma GOP Reps. J.C. Watts and Wes Watkins, both of whom supported the emergency funding.

Republicans called Carson’s ad “fiction,” arguing that the money would have only replenished federal funds already spent in Oklahoma.

The Carson spot is just the latest punch thrown in a battle that has grown increasingly negative. Recent polling has shown the candidates running neck and neck and the open-seat Senate contest is one of the most closely watch of the cycle.

Also on Tuesday the National Republican Senatorial Committee went up with a new positive spot touting a laundry list of Coburn’s accomplishments.

“He raised a family, built a business, survived cancer … twice,” the narrator says. “Became a doctor, delivered babies, went to Congress. Cut taxes, fought waste, wrote a Patient’s Bill of Rights.”

Carson’s campaign will begin airing a new positive ad today in which he pledges to help lure new business to the state and stand up against illegal immigration.

Another commercial Carson is running imposes Coburn’s head over a jack in the box and makes use of Coburn’s comment calling people in Oklahoma City “crapheads.” It also features footage of Carson with President Bush.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Castor, Martinez Both Airing New TV Spots

Both candidates in the Sunshine State Senate race began airing new television ads this week, with the help of the party committees trying to elect them this fall.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez (R) and former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor (D) are facing off in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D).

Castor went up with her second ad targeting Martinez this week. This ad was paid for in coordinated funds from by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“Republican Mel Martinez says: ‘I’ll vote for George Bush’s conservative policies every chance I get,” an announcer says in the spot. “Martinez supports tax cuts for the rich — but opposes raising the minimum wage. He supports the Bush drug plan that means higher costs for us and higher profits for drug companies. We need Democrat Betty Castor.”

As Castor’s ad was hitting Florida airwaves, Martinez was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to unveil his latest campaign commercial that features former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).

“Mel Martinez escaped Communism and knows what it is like to live without freedom,” Giuliani says in the spot. “I’ve worked closely with Mel. He’s a good friend. He’s a strong leader with a big heart. Mel Martinez will fight every day to defend the America we love.”

The ad is airing in select markets and is being funded by Martinez’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
— L.W.W.

Rendell Reaffirms His Support for Democrat

Gov. Ed Rendell (D) publicly reaffirmed his support for 15th district Democratic nominee Joe Driscoll this week, after Driscoll’s GOP opponent began airing an ad that features praise from the governor.

Driscoll faces state Sen. Charlie Dent (R) in the race to succeed Rep. Pat Toomey (R). Dent is widely viewed as the frontrunner in the contest, although the district’s makeup slightly favors Democrats.

Rendell and Driscoll toured an Allentown furniture company on Monday, and the governor called Dent’s ad misleading because it implies he has endorsed the Republican. Rendell encouraged Driscoll to enter the race after several other better-known Democrats passed.

“I recruited Joe Driscoll to run for this office because he knows how to develop things,” Rendell said, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

An ad recently launched by Dent’s campaign features footage of Rendell praising Dent during a news conference in July.

“Charlie has been a great help on our economic development projects and helping to make this economic stimulus package a reality,” Rendell says in the TV advertisement.
— L.W.W.

House Leadership Hosts Ashburn D.C. Fundraiser

National Republicans continue to work feverishly to help state Sen. Roy Ashburn (R) pull an upset in the race to replace retiring Rep. Cal Dooley (D) in the Central Valley.

All the top House GOP leaders, from Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) down are co-sponsoring a fundraiser for Ashburn this evening at NRCC headquarters. The price tag is $500 for individuals and $1,000 for political action committees.

Ashburn is squaring off against former state Sen. Jim Costa (D) in the 20th district, who is the favorite. The district gave Al Gore 55 percent of the vote in 2000, but Republicans believe it is trending in their direction.
— Josh Kurtz

Boxer’s First Ad Features Home Movie Footage

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) began airing the first TV ads of her re-election campaign this week.

The 30-second spot, called “1965,” features home movies of Boxer’s family dating back to the 1960s, and cuts to interview-style shots of the Senator describing why her family moved to California. She then outlines her domestic priorities.

“People need help,” she says. “I want to make health insurance tax-deductible. Tuition, deductible. And give tax incentives to companies that create jobs here in America, not overseas. We need to do these things for our families.”

The ad is running in the Golden State’s five largest media markets: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.

Boxer’s opponent, former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R), has not yet begun advertising on TV. A poll released by the California Public Policy Institute last week showed Boxer holding an 18-point lead over Jones.
— J.K.

State Will Go Back to Holding June Primaries

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday signed a bill to move the state’s primary from March to June.

For five decades, the state held its presidential primary — and all corresponding Congressional and legislative primaries — in June. But eight years ago, as many other states front-loaded their presidential primaries to try to get in on the early action, California followed suit.

But as it happened, the presidential nominating contests of 1996, 2000 and 2004 were all but over by the time Californians went to the polls in March. And, in the view of most of the state’s political professionals, the early primary drastically affected Congressional and legislative elections, forcing candidates to try to ramp up their campaigns and fundraising efforts during the December holidays.

“It’s been an utter failure,” said Susie Swatt, chief of staff to state Sen. Ross Johnson (R), sponsor of the bill to restore the June primary.

“It’s been very difficult for voters to engage in an election season that comes on the heels of the Christmas season,” Swatt told the Los Angeles Times.

“We didn’t get the added clout we all thought we would [in the presidential selection process], because everybody bounced over us. And it’s resulted in us having the longest campaign season in the nation. You can fit spring training, the entire baseball season, the pennant race and the World Series in the time between our primary and general elections. We’re turning voters off.”
— J.K.

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