WASHINGTON – Republican Senate challenger Ross Pierpont will spend $230,000 of his own money to mount a statewide television ad campaign in the 10 days remaining until the election.
The ad, which started running Friday, shows Pierpont in front of a waving American flag, attacking the current state of U.S. health care.
It is the first, and perhaps only, television ad in Pierponts’ challenge of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore.
A campaign consultant said Pierpont’s ad will run in prime time until the day before the election on network and cable stations in all four major Maryland markets: Washington, Baltimore, Hagerstown and Salisbury.
Mikulski, by contrast, began running TV commercials five weeks ago in all four markets. Aides said her $1.1 million television campaign features six different commercials.
Pierpont, a retired surgeon, said Friday that there are three “900-pound gorillas” that clog the health care system: The federal government, insurance companies and lawyers.
In the ad, he says: “When insurance companies tell you how long you can stay in the hospital; when doctors are penalized for telling patients about health care availability; when a patient must call a lawyer to get chemotherapy, you don’t have health care, you have a nightmare.”
Pierpont said he chose the theme of the ad to appeal to those most likely to vote.
But while health care reform may be on the mind of voters this election, political analysts say Pierpont could have done more.
“Obviously [the commercial] is poll driven, health care is very high in polls this election,” said Jim Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.
But Thurber said a single ad is “not very effective” and Pierpont would have been better served running a diverse set of ads that contrasts the differences between him and Mikulski.
Pierpont may or may not choose to run another commercial before the election, said Larry Cirignano, his media consultant.
Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the study of the American Electorate, said that in a Maryland Senate campaign “$230,000 is a drop in the bucket.”
“He is so far behind in the polls, and Mikulski is so popular … at this point that ad is going no place,” said Gans.
Mikulski led Pierpont by a 69 to 19 percent margin, with 12 percent undecided, according a September poll by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc.
Pierpont — who is mounting his 15th bid for office on the state or national level — said he has been working on ways to reform American health care for 30 years. He said he latest model is based on the system in place in Germany.
Although the ad did not specifically attack Mikulski, campaign officials defended her record on health care reform.
“The senator has been a big supporter of HMO reform, which unfortunately the Republican leadership in the Senate blocked,” said Mona Miller, a Mikulski campaign spokeswoman.