Democratic group targets Alaska, others

Posted: Thursday, October 07, 2004

DENVER (AP) -- A Democratic group said it plans to spend about $3.3 million on new TV ads in Alaska, Colorado and Oklahoma to highlight lost jobs, budget deficits and health insurance problems under Republican leadership.

The New Democrat Network said its series of 30-second ads will begin airing Wednesday in the three states, where Democrats hope to grab Senate seats from the GOP. Some $1.1 million will be spent in each state.

Because the ads are financed by unregulated soft-money contributions, they don't mention federal officeholders by name. They use images of a ''help wanted'' sign with the word ''wanted'' crossed out to illustrate what the group calls the worst economy in a generation under GOP leadership.

Different versions of the ad cite numbers of lost jobs in Alaska and Oklahoma. Colorado's version includes national job-loss numbers and says 170,000 Colorado children have been left without health insurance.

New Democrat president Simon Rosenberg said Democrats are trying to make up for an expected flood of independent expenditures by Republican-leaning groups.

''We're just not going to let these Republican groups go unanswered in these states,'' Rosenberg said.

Colorado GOP Chair Ted Halaby said the script for the ads distorts Colorado's economic picture.

''I think it's misrepresentation,'' Halaby said. ''In fact, we've had three straight years of job growth in Colorado. Colorado's unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, compared to the national average of 5.5 percent. The president's new health care proposal will provide extensive coverage at a cheaper price, without raising taxes or increasing the bureaucracy.''

Rosenberg said the growth of the Hispanic population and the presence of Attorney General Ken Salazar in the Senate battle against Republican Pete Coors has changed the political landscape in Colorado.

''Colorado has emerged in the last week as ground zero in the presidential election,'' Rosenberg said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters said it plans to spend $500,000 attacking Greg Walcher, the Republican nominee seeking Colorado's open House seat.

The group is criticizing Walcher's support of 2003's failed Referendum A, which would have committed $2 billion to building reservoirs. Many residents in the western Colorado district said it was a water grab intended to benefit the Front Range at their expense.

Andy Schultheiss, the league's regional director and a member of the Boulder City Council, said Walcher was also targeted because of his support for oil and gas drilling when he was director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Walcher's campaign manager, John Marshall, said Walcher tightened controls on drilling to protect the environment. He also said residents of the mostly rural district won't be swayed by the ads.

''I'm fairly sure the guys sitting around the Stockman's Coffee House in Delta are going to be real persuaded by a bunch of liberals from Washington and Boulder,'' Marshall said.

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