ATLANTA — More than eight months before the first ballot will be cast in Georgia’s U.S. Senate primary, radio listeners in Athens, Savannah and Atlanta can already hear the first candidate ads.
Former Secretary of State Karen Handel began airing the 60-second commercials Thursday in the hometowns of three congressmen also contending for the Republican nomination. While the ad doesn’t mention Reps. Paul Broun, Jack Kingston or Phil Gingrey, it puts them on notice that she plans to tie the federal health care overhaul to them – even though all three voted against it.
“Only in Washington can congressmen campaign against Obamacare – while receiving special treatment and thousands in taxpayer subsidies that the rest of us don’t get,” she says in the ad, referring to an $11,000 annual subsidy that members of Congress will get to purchase health insurance.
Handel’s campaign won’t disclose how much it spent on the ads, but spokesman Dan McLagan did explain why they’re running so early.
“It’s happening right now. Talking about it in February would be too late,” he said. “It’s not about a campaign calendar. It’s about impacting what our elected officials
are trying to slip through today.”
Veteran GOP campaign consultants say the ads might be a good tactic.
“Karen is running an aggressive campaign, but as it stands she is significantly underfunded,” said Joel McElhannon, of Athens-based South Public Affairs Consulting. “An early radio push like this can generate support and campaign contributions, so it is smart, and it helps.”
Handel entered this race behind Kingston and Gingrey, who converted money from their congressional campaign coffers.
In addition to the congressmen, she also faces two multimillionaires in businessmen David Perdue and Eugene Yu who are expected to pump some of their own money into their campaigns.