Posted Online: Oct. 05, 2012, 7:06 pm
17th District advertising war escalates
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By Eric Timmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
The advertising war between Republicans and Democrats in the 17th Congressional District is intensifying, with independent expenditures now at $3.2 million in one of the most closely watched races in the nation.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, released a new ad this week called "Let's Get Real" that takes his opponent, Democrat Cheri Bustos, of East Moline, to task for running a "Chicago-style false attack ad on Bobby Schilling."
However, the ad Rep. Schilling is responding to was paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and produced independently of the Bustos campaign.
The DCCC commercial, called "Bellringer," features constituents from the 17th District blaming Rep. Schilling for job losses. But a spokesman for the Schilling campaign said the ad showed "Democratic operatives posing as workers who had lost their jobs."
Those featured in the commercial include former Rock Island County Democratic Party chairman Steve Ballard, who also is a former East Moline Correctional Center warden.
"You forgot where you came from," Mr. Ballard says to Rep. Schilling in the DCCC ad.
In the Schilling commercial, the narrator responds: "But we know where this guy came from. Bustos is using party bosses posing as local workers."
Also featured in the DCCC ad are Cecilia O'Brien -- a Moline School Board member and wife of Pat O'Brien, who used to work for former Democratic Congressman Phil Hare -- and Derek Jones, who also used to work for Mr. Hare. Rep. Schilling beat Mr. Hare in the 2010 election.
The new Schilling commercial shows a picture of Ms. Bustos with Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, taken at a Chicago fundraiser. The House Majority PAC, a super PAC that supports Democrats, has its own ad hitting Rep. Schilling in a similar fashion for raising "$800,000 from special interests."
So far, Democratic outside groups have been outspending Republicans in the 17th District, in large part because of the House Majority PAC, which had pumped close to $500,000 into the race by Friday, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Most independent Republican expenditures in the 17th have come from the National Republican Congressional Campaign, which has spent more than $1 million on the race.
On Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a new commerical criticizing Ms. Bustos for her support of the Affordable Care Act, President's Obama's health-care law.
The U.S. Chamber has begun sponsoring ads in the 2012 election cycle for the first time, overtly urging people to vote for or against a candidate, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. As a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association, the Chamber does not have to disclose its donors.
The $3.2 million in outside money spent on the 17th District is likely to continue rising. The two campaigns also are raising big money. Terry Schilling, Rep. Schilling's campaign manager, said the Republican had raised $2.1 million by the end of September. Numbers from the Bustos campaign for the quarter have yet to be tallied, a spokesman said.