Gunn McKay unveiled two television advertisements Thursday that are the beginning of a pre-election media blitz to strengthen his support among voters. Polls show McKay has consistently lagged behind 1st Congressional District incumbent Jim Hansen.
The ads emphasize what McKay perceives as weaknesses in the Hansen's record - the economy, education, elderly and ethics. One of the spots promises that a strong and visionary McKay can bring more jobs to Utah, improve education, give affordable health care to the elderly and "put ethics back into government and interests of his people first."The other, about ethics, features McKay, a Huntsville Democrat, talking about being taught to put "family and religion" first and then dealing in public policy to protect those institutions.
"All of our lives whether it was dealing with the irrigation company or the Congress it was the same responsibility. You have been the greatness of this country and you have something you need to give back," McKay says in the ad.
McKay said at a Thursday press conference, his campaign will address issues and not "fluff."
"When these ads go on and we get our media up we are headed in the right direction," McKay said, "This will lay out a case to show the people that we have got a plan."
Hansen's campaign spokesman, Peter Jenks, said his candidate's ads will be on television within three or four days. In addition to spots that carry general themes, both campaigns plan to compare and contrast each other's record. McKay plans to spend about $140,000 during the next three weeks before election day. Jenks said Hansen, a Farmington Republican, would spend slightly more than that, but wouldn't give a specific amount.
Jenks said McKay's ads will make little difference on election day.
"Gunn McKay has a lot more to be concerned about than Jim Hansen does when the records are exposed. The only thing we can see coming out, if both candidates go head to head in the media, is it will negate each other. That's the best I think McKay can hope for," he said.
While not dealing specifically with the content of his comparison ads, McKay discussed some negative points that will likely come up. Sounding a theme already used in one radio ad, McKay again criticized Hansen for missing a vote on a catastrophic health care bill. He also blamed Hansen for "robbing the Social Security fund" and not supporting pension cost of living increases for veterans.
He also said that Hansen has been ineffective in bringing military contracts to state and is unethical because of taking money from political action committees including the National Realtors Political Action Committee. The group recently spent $117,958 on television and radio ads in the state stopped airing on Oct. 3.
Jenks said the attacks on Hansen are exaggerated.
"We're going to be comparing and contrasting as well. We are going to be showing Gunn McKay to be a big spender, to be ineffective in Congress and show that he is tied to special interest groups."
Before the McKay campaign's Thursday release of the ads, the second spot had previously aired two weeks ago between televised sessions of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. McKay said there wasn't any intention of using the ads with references to "family and religion" to attract LDS voters.
"We didn't intend it that way, but if it had those overtones we don't apologize," McKay said.