Lansing is seeing the first round of Elissa Slotkin TV commercials this week as the Democratic 8th Congressional District candidate opens up her substantial campaign coffers to pay for an estimated 100 spots here worth $38,500 this week alone, according to federal disclosure filings.
At the same time, the former national security official is going up with at least 50 spots worth $9,691 on the Detroit CBS affiliate, with similar buys on the NBC and ABC affiliates, part of what the Slotkin campaign is calling a “robust” buy on network and cable.
The spot introduces the CIA analyst as a service-minded public servant who did three tours in Iraq for two different presidents. A smiling Slotkin is shown posing in separate photos with former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“I approve this message because we need members of Congress who remember it’s about service to country, not themselves,” she said.
The ad marks the earliest network television ad from a Lansing-based Democratic congressional candidate in at least 17 years and comes on top of digital ads Slotkin released Aug. 10.
Less than an hour after Slotkin’s campaign released her new TV ad, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop’s (R-Rochester) campaign was out with a sharp rebuke, noting that the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee denied her confirmation appointment as the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in 2014.
The now-late U.S. Sen. John McCain called Slotkin and another appointee “totally unqualified” at this hearing, according to The Hill. McCain was agitated because he felt Slotkin was “totally non-responsive” in answering his questions on foreign affairs.
How much of McCain’s objection was based on Slotkin, herself, as opposed to his general frustration with the Obama administration’s handling of Iraq, ISIL and international conflicts is subject to debate.
However, then-U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, committee chairman at the time, declined to vote on the appointment out of concerns he didn’t have the votes for confirmation. Levin has since endorsed Slotkin, saying she “will bring to Congress a point of view which I believe will contribute significantly to the national security of our country and our state.” But the non-vote opens up Slotkin to criticism.
“When the voters of the 8th District review Elissa Slotkin’s record, they will reject it just as the Senate Armed Services Committee chaired by former Sen. Carl Levin did when they reviewed her qualifications in 2014,” said Bishop adviser Stu Sandler.
Bishop and Slotkin are on a path to presumably talk about this and other issues on the debate stage. Bishop took the uncommon approach last week of challenging his opponent to three debates after Slotkin had challenged him to debates moments after her primary win against Chris Smith.
Sandler said Bishop wanted to jump start discussions on the topic and did so by accepting an invitation from WDIV- TV’s show “Flashpoint,” in Detroit. Details on two other debates are yet to be announced, but Slotkin announced has already accepted an invitation to attend a Lansing Community College Forum Sept. 18 and a Livingston County event Oct. 4.
“Rep. Bishop is playing games with the voters and using tactics that people have come to hate from career politicians in Washington,” she said. “A real leader answers a challenge when issued, clearly, quickly and with seriousness. I look forward to publicly debating Rep. Bishop now that he appears willing to do so.”
On the TV front, the Bishop camp is serious about getting his message out, too. The two-term incumbent purchased this past spring more than $200,000 in ad time in metro Detroit broadcast media the week before the Nov. 6 general election. That’s on top of 68 trackable TV spots purchased on WILX and a radio spot that’s already out.
More significantly, the pro-Donald Trump SuperPAC, the America First PAC, recently announced they are spending $12.5 million across 10 House races and two Senate races, with Bishop getting $854,000 of that.
The Bishop camp is kicking things into overdrive on the organizational front, as well. At the Michigan Republican Party convention last weekend at the Lansing Center, the 8th Congressional caucus was one of the only caucus groups to meet prior to the main festivities.
Bishop was the centerpiece of the event, based on the observations of people in the room, where he was seen talking individually and shaking hands with as many delegates and alternates as he could get in front of.
(Melinn, of the Capitol news service MIRS, is at firstname.lastname@example.org.)