Sen. Bill Nelson's campaign is going on air early with a multi-week ad buy, we hear, which is a sign that he's nervous or smart or both.
Nelson is essentially running neck-and-neck with Republican Connie Mack, who's being outraised by the incumbent but has the help of Super PAC third-party groups. They's already spent an estimated $7 million to knock the Democrat down a few pegs.
"After this negative barrage of ads that are untruthful, it's time for people to know the truth," said Pete Mitchell, Nelson's campaign manager.
Mitchell wouldn't confirm the size or style of the ad buy. It's at least two weeks long and could be longer. It could be at least $3 million. One media buyer estimated it was just a two-week ad buy worth $750,000. That's pretty paltry. A top Democratic insider said the ad size and buy would be more robust.
Chances are that a good part of the ad buy will be negative. If so, Nelson's camp probably hopes to tar Mack, hurt him in the polls in time for the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, slow his fundraising (reports are due about the time of the RNC) and hope the Super PACs go somewhere else if they believe Mack's not worth the investment. Florida is a large TV state and it might be more cost-effective for the Super PACs to go elsewhere, say less-expensive and more-competitive Missouri, to pick up a Senate seat.
While there have been Republican doubts about Mack's candidacy, he's nearly tied with Nelson. And that makes Democrats worried about the two-term incumbent.
Mack's camp described Nelson's ad buy as an act of desperation. In an email response about the ad buy, Mack spokesman David James sent the above photo and suggested Nelson will try to hide is record and his association with President Obama:
"I would doubt very much that you will see this [photo above] -- or any other image of Barack Obama thanking Bill Nelson for his lockstep liberal support of stimulus spending, ObamaCare, killing of the Keystone Pipeline and last week's Senate vote to raise taxes in any Nelson ad, and no amount of advertising can airbrush Nelson's voting with Obama 98% of the time."
There's another reason to run ads for Nelson: He has raised at least $1 million from donors who have contributed in excess of the $2,500 per-cycle limit. So the ad buy in some respects represents surplus primary campaign funds. Nelson faces token opposition from Glenn Burkett on Aug. 14.
Mack squares off against former Congressman Dave Weldon, who is little known and entered the race late.