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HD-69 Race Turning Nasty; Effective FDP Mailers/TV Ads


Republican Kathleen Peters has had all the momentum lately in the southern Pinellas HD-69 race against Democrat Josh Shulman. The seat, which more or less resembles a seat held by the Democrats since the 1980s is one where the GOP should not be successful particularly in the Presidential year. But the failure of the local or state party to find a Senate candidate to face off with Jeff Brandes in SD-22 which was won by both Barack Obama and Alex Sink, as well as the emphasis on other local seats seems to have made this seat more vulnerable than perhaps it should be.

Shulman and the FDP are fighting back however against the surge Peters has recently enjoyed. Hitting Peters on her own fiscal troubles more than a month before the election seems somewhat desperate, but with absentee voting beginning soon, the timing may turn out to be perfect.

This Television ad also hits on the same theme.  Shulman’s positives are stressed before the ad takes a sharp turn attacking Peters’ record. The ad is effective and understandable. The message is clear, unlike some other Democratic ads this cycle which are trying to crown too much information into 30 seconds.

Delinquency on property taxes tends to poll well with the electorate and these are effective ads. The big question however is in a time when negative ads have started to flood mailboxes and the airwaves will this very serious situation be interpreted as just another political shot? The FDP is buying ads in many targeted legislative seats where the first portion of the commercial is spent establishing a positive theme for the Democratic candidate while the second half is more dreary and negative towards the Republican. Some of these seats are in the Tampa-St Petersburg media market. My concern is that while the attacks on Peters could be effective and should resonate with voters, will they be taken with a grain of salt by an electorate who sees Democrats running similar ads in the same media market in neighboring races, using negatives against GOP candidates that aren’t as likely to resonate as those against Peters?

Hopes for a Democratic sweep in Pinellas County this year have faded, but if the party can achieve a 2-2 split or 3-1 victory in the four heavily contested House races that will be sign of progress.

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