By Belinda Paschal
April 6, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a primary challenge from three fellow Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday began spending money on television ads in his Ohio congressional district.
Boehner, the top Republican in the House, plans to spend $125,000 for two weeks of ads in southwest Ohio. While Boehner is expected to easily win his primary and then his November re-election, the ad buy represents the first time the GOP leader is airing commercials in his Cincinnati-area district since 2010.
In the 30-second ad, voters from Boehner’s district praise him.
“It makes me proud to say John Boehner is my congressman,” an older woman says into the camera.
“John Boehner is fighting for people like us, working families,” a young mother says.
“We need John Boehner in Congress. It’s as simple as that,” a man says.
Boehner aides cast the decision to buy television ads as a way to help the Ohio Republican Party and candidates running for lower offices, such as county commissioner or township trustee.
“Republicans have a big opportunity in 2014, and the speaker wants to make the most of it,” Boehner political spokesman Cory Fritz said. “With no significant statewide primary to mobilize voters in Ohio, we’re stepping up and doing our part to build a strong foundation for victory up and down the ticket in November.”
The ad features only a photograph of Boehner at its start and it never mentions that he serves as the House’s speaker, a role in which he helped negotiate deals that conservatives vehemently opposed, including agreements to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.
Some of those conservative groups have worked to oppose Boehner’s bid to win a 13th term in the House. The Tea Party Leadership Fund, for instance, earlier this week spent another $4,000 on telephone calls to voters.
Another, the Madison Project, has criticized Boehner online: “We don’t expect purity from leadership but we do expect principles over politics.”
Such complaints are nothing new — or worrisome — for Boehner. He fended off a primary challenger in 2012 year by 68 percentage points. He did not draw a Democratic challenger that year.
A prolific fundraiser who has an advanced political machine, Boehner is spending $61,000 in the Dayton media market and another $64,000 in Cincinnati, according to a political operative who tracks ad spending. The ads are set to run through April 16 but more can be added before Ohio’s May 6 primary. The operative spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss spending patterns.
Boehner can afford the ads. His campaign ended last year with $2.9 million in the bank and his challengers have not kept pace.
Eric Gurr, CEO of a computer consulting firm, ended last year with $1,000 in the bank and $2,000 in red ink. J.D. Winteregg, a high school teacher, ended last year with almost $1,600 in the bank and almost $1,000 in debt.
And Matthew Ashworth, whose campaign Facebook page features a photograph of Boehner playing golf with President Barack Obama, did not file a fundraising report to the Federal Election Commission.