We want to make sure that once we’re up on TV, we have a very strong and continuous presence. – Casey Frary, campaign manager
SALT LAKE CITY — Democrat Doug Owens is delaying the start of his TV campaign commercials by a week in his 4th District congressional race against Republican Mia Love, from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22.
Owens' campaign manager, Casey Frary, said Tuesday that money isn't the reason for what she called a "strategic decision" to cancel the first week of advertising time reserved on Utah airwaves through the Nov. 4 election.
"We want to make sure that once we're up on TV, we have a very strong and continuous presence," she said, describing the $300,000 ad buy announced this summer as "slightly reduced."
Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said her commercials will still begin airing on Sept. 15. More than $400,000 worth of time on network affiliates and cable channels was paid for months ago, he said.
The decision to scale back Owens' TV commercials won't affect Love, Hansen said. "If anything, we would increase our ad buy as we go along. We'll have to take a look at that," he said. "It does not change our strategy at all."
Hansen said radio commercials will start next week and billboards have been going up for Love, a former Saratoga Springs mayor who narrowly lost to retiring Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, for the state's newest congressional seat two years ago.
The Utah Democratic Party launched a new website opposing Love on Tuesday, NoLoveForMia.com. Matt Lyon, the party's executive director, said the intent is to remind voters of what he termed Love's extreme positions on issues.
Owens has lagged behind Love in fundraising and in polling.
In the most recent Federal Election Committee filing, Owens reported having nearly $210,000 cash on hand at the end of June, compared to just under $873,000 for Love. A UtahPolicy.com poll in August showed he trailed Love by 12 points.
Frary declined to discuss whether the campaign had the money to pay for the week of commercials just cut.
"My answer isn't going to change in terms of the fundraising question," Frary said. "Our fundraising is going really well. And we're confident we're going to be able to run the type of aggressive campaign we want to run."
Hansen, a former state GOP chairman who has run other high-profile campaigns, said, "When you cut back the TV buy, it's either one of two things. You don't have the money or you're 40 points ahead and you want to save money."