Advertising Truce Starts Fight in North Dakota

Posted January 10, 2011 at 4:43pm

A dispute broke out Monday in North Dakota over whether early 2012 political efforts have been paused out of sensitivity to Saturday’s deadly shooting in Arizona.

The conservative 501(c)(4) American Future Fund started airing radio ads last week drawing attention to a pledge that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) made in 1986. Conrad is up for re-election in 2012, and he had promised as a newly elected freshman to step down if the deficit did not decrease.

Commonsense Ten, a Democratic group, responded with ads highlighting the Budget chairman’s fiscal conservatism, and Conrad began airing ads in his own defense Monday.
However, AFF said Monday that it had pulled its ad from the air out of respect for the shooting victims. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was critically wounded, six people were killed and more than a dozen other people were injured.
“We have changed some plans,” Nick Ryan, leader of the American Future Fund, told Roll Call in an e-mail. “We had a two-week buy in North Dakota, and the ad is not running this week.”
But a station manager at North Dakota’s largest radio station, KFGO in Fargo, said no one from AFF has contacted the station to pull the ad buy.
“They have not pulled from KFGO, and they’re on through tomorrow with us,” General Manager Nancy Odney told Roll Call. She said the buy started Jan. 4.

Ryan later explained that some of the ads were already scheduled to end Monday and some Tuesday. He said a separate buy that was supposed to start Tuesday has been postponed.
As a result, Conrad has left his own ad on the air. It was scheduled to run until Jan. 14 in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks.
“If they take down their attack ad, we’ll bring down our response ad,” Conrad spokesman Christopher Gaddie said.