Allen County Republicans will buy at least $10,000 in TV ad space to undermine Democrats hoping to rally their local troops at this weekend's state Democratic Party convention in Fort Wayne.
Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine said Republicans would try to "saturate" local airwaves with a 60-second spot that highlights what he called a dismal 16 years of Democrat rule before Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels took over in 2005. The ads would start running Thursday, just as about 2,000 Democratic delegates roll into town.
"We want the Democrat delegates who will be visiting to have an opportunity to see the video to let them know Allen County is still a solid Republican county," Shine said Wednesday.
The ad features dozens of negative headlines from Indiana's years under Democratic governors Evan Bayh, Frank O'Bannon and Joe Kernan, set against dark, ominous music and lighting.
"Do you remember the last time Democrats controlled state government?" the video asks.
Allen County Democratic Party Chairman John Court called the video a waste of money and said he was “a little stunned initially by the ad, that they would spend that kind of money to run that ad.”
While the ad highlights scandals under Democratic governors involving state agencies such as the Family and Social Services Administration, Court was quick to point out the Daniels' administration's mishandling of nearly $500 million over the past year and failed try at outsourcing FSSA duties to IBM.
“If we're ready to start a conversation about scandal in state government, let's take a look at the Daniels administration over the last eight years,” Court said.
The ad will start running on WANE, NewsChannel 15, during its 5 p.m. newscast Thursday and keep running during local newscasts through Saturday night, Shine said. Republicans also bought time on a Fox cable channel and hope to buy space on WPTA, Channel 21, he said.
Shine defended the ad's gloomy tone, blaming it on what he called Indiana's “depressing” condition under Democrat control. He also denied that it could backfire and turn voters off in an election year filled with posturing on both sides.
Democrats see this year's convention – which will be held outside Indianapolis for the first time – as a chance to rally party loyalists in Republican-heavy Allen County and northeast Indiana in general.
“I think the Democratic message this weekend is going to be about inspiring and motivating voters, and that ad is depressing and uninspiring,” Court said.
Shine said he doubts the convention will help Democrats at the polls in November but acknowledged that excitement surrounding the event forced him to respond.
“If I did nothing, the Democrats would own the stage. They would own the microphone,” Shine said. “Do you want to sit back and let them have their way, or do you want to put out another set of ideas and go on the offensive?”
County Republicans also posted the ad on YouTube and their Facebook page.