Just days after declaring that he was cutting his television ad spending in half because he had such an insurmountable lead in the Republican primary for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, David Schweikert ramped up his advertising with a $14,000 cable television buy for the last week before the primary. The spending boost comes after Schweikert had halved his $12,000-a-week television advertising budget.
Campaign spokesman Oliver Schwab said he stands by his Aug. 13 statement that the former Maricopa County treasurer is so far ahead of rivals Chris Salvino, Susan Bitter Smith and Jim Ward that the primary is essentially over based on internal polling and early ballot returns. But he said the campaign wants to reach out to primary voters who will vote in person on Election Day.
“We made the decision to make sure that we finish strong. There’s every reason in the world to fight until the last moment,” said Schwab, who told the Arizona Capitol Times on Aug. 13 that Schweikert was “so far ahead” that he’d cut his ad buys in half.
But Ward said Schweikert’s about-face was a sign that his position is weaker than he’d let on.
“If he’s so confident, then why is he at the last minute here scrambling and making a TV investment if he wanted to save his money for the general? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Ward said. “He must be reading the same numbers now that we’re reading, which show him losing all sorts of momentum.”
Ward accused Schweikert of ignoring the majority of primary voters who hadn’t yet cast their ballots and taking their votes for granted when he essentially declared the race over. Ward said his polling has picked up over the past couple weeks, though he wouldn’t say where he stood in his campaign’s internal polls.
“I just think it’s folly and the height of arrogance to declare victory and basically tell people who haven’t voted that you don’t care about their votes. And that’s what David Schweikert did,” Ward said. “As a result he’s going to lose a lot of those votes. And they’re coming our way.”
The new ad buy began on Aug. 16 and is scheduled to run through the 29th. Schwab said Schweikert also increased his radio advertising on KFYI.
According to records from Cox Cable, Schweikert spent an average of $10,000 a week on cable television ads through June and July. Schwab said the campaign cut back on its ad buys in August so it could preserve money for a general election matchup against incumbent Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell. But the campaign decided to use the money it saved to make a final advertising push to reach out to Electin Day voters.
Schwab said Schweikert isn’t taking anyone’s vote for granted, but still believes Bitter Smith, Salvino and Ward can’t catch up with him.
“Looking at the grassroots momentum behind our campaign, I think the voters are showing in their support for David that they want a true conservative,” he said. “The polls do show that.”