2015 | Politics

Kathleen Matthews First Candidate to Buy TV Advertising in 8th District Race

Paid spot to air Thursday evening during GOP presidential debate on Fox News

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Kathleen Matthews

Aaron Kraut

Former TV news anchor Kathleen Matthews, who raised $500,000 in the month following her June announcement that she is running for Congress, Thursday evening will become the first candidate in the 8th District race to dip into her campaign treasury to take her message to a television audience.

Matthews, one of a half-dozen formally declared Democratic primary contenders for the seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, plans to run a 30-second paid spot on the Fox News Channel during the Thursday evening debate among the 10 front-running candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The ad, entitled “Proud,” also will run locally on Fox News as well as CNN and MSNBC late Thursday night and Friday in conjunction with post-debate coverage on those networks.

According to a statement from Matthews’ campaign late Wednesday, the forthcoming TV ad “draws a contrast between her Democratic agenda putting ‘Families First’ and the divisive policies supported by the GOP presidential primary candidates.”

Matthews’ campaign manager, Ethan Susseles, declined to disclose in advance how many times the 30-second ad would run during the Republican candidates’ debate, which is scheduled from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday. The spot “will be aired throughout the DC media market during the debate,” Susseles said.

Matthews’ decision to go on air with paid advertising comes nine months before the April 26 primary in the predominantly Democratic 8th District, which is centered in Montgomery County but also includes portions of Carroll and Frederick counties.

“We are starting this conversation now…because the stakes are too high,” Matthews declared in Wednesday’s press release. Reciting several of the issues at the core of national Democrats’ platform going into the 2016 election, Matthews contended the electorate is “looking for candidates who will pass paid family medical leave, protect women’s healthcare and right to choose, invest in education, and give them a better shot at a brighter future.” Gibed Matthews, “Voters won’t hear anything like that from the candidates on stage tomorrow night.”

The full text of the Matthews’ 30-second spot reads: “Watching the Republicans run for President makes me proud to be a Democrat. 

Because our party stands up for working women, good wages, upward mobility, better health care – including the choices we have a right to make. As the Republican debate shows, their policies undermine the middle class and divide America. I’m Kathleen Matthews, Democrat for Congress, and I approve this message because the real debate needs to be about how to put families first."

Matthews is running in an 8th District field of candidates that also includes state Sen. Jamie Raskin, state Dels. Kumar Barve and Ana Sol Gutierrez, former County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, and former Obama administration official William Jawando, who sought a state delegate nomination in District 20 last year. Van Hollen is giving up the seat to run for Senate to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

In addition, two other Democrats, former District 18 state delegate candidate Elizabeth Matory and David Anderson of Potomac, an official of a Washington-based internship and seminar program, have indicated they plan to run, although neither has formally announced. No Republicans are currently in the race for the 8th District seat.

Both Matthews and Raskin, who announced his candidacy in mid-April, reported about $480,000 in their respective campaign treasuries as of June 30, the cutoff date for the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Barve, who announced his bid for the seat in early March, was in third place in the money-raising competition as of the latest reports with about $230,000 in his campaign treasury.

While Barve, like other leading contenders for the nomination, is budgeting money for a TV ad campaign, sources said he has no plans to buy TV time this far in advance of next April’s primary. The Raskin campaign declined comment on Matthews’ latest move or its advertising strategy.

Susseles declined to disclose how much the Matthews campaign is spending for its initial ad buy. Asked whether the campaign has plans for additional TV advertising in the near future, Susseles said: “We are going to do what we think is necessary to get Kathleen’s message out. If at some point, we determine we need to go back up on TV, we certainly will. We’re running in this campaign to win it.”

While running over-the-air political advertising in the Washington market can be extremely expensive—a 30-second over the air spot can cost up to $10,000, according to sources—cable TV allows candidates to tightly target the markets where potential voters are located, at a considerably lesser cost. When limited to the Montgomery viewing area, 30-second cable TV spots are said to run from as little as $75 to several hundred dollars a viewing.