Bruce Spiva is the first DC contestant to hit the airwaves
Say what you want Bruce Spiva and his chances in the race for Attorney General, but give him this: he’s really going for it.
First, Perkins Coie’s former partner engineered the seemingly successful effort to force the Ward 5 council member McDuffie from Kenya out of ballot. He has now become the first local candidate to hit the airwaves, spending six figures on an ad buy his campaign first shared with Loose Lips.
Spiva campaign manager, Alaina Haworth, wouldn’t give many other details about the purchase, except to say that the ads will air both on television and in “digital streaming” throughout the district. But it seems pretty clear that Spiva is hoping to generate some momentum with a splashy move like this, capitalizing on one of the rare occasions it made headlines to pitch itself to voters via paid media. The ad is a lovely painted-by-numbers biographical spot, highlighting his background in civil rights and voting rights cases and his advocacy for DC statehood, all accompanied by a heavy piano instrument ( interpreted by his son, Jonahhis campaign was sure to note).
What really caught LL’s attention about this decision was how early Spiva chose to go on air. There’s something to be said for creating a much-needed name tag, but conventional campaign wisdom dictates that TV ads are best reserved for the endgame, not two months out from the primary. If McDuffie is indeed out of the race (no certainty), then Spiva will definitely have to do something to match the power of the incumbent GA. Karl Rootthe approval of Brian Schwalb.
The size of ad buying is also notable. Spiva is the only candidate in the race to use traditional campaign fundraising instead of public funding, which means it’s much easier to not only take big checks from friends, but also use his own wealth to finance such large expenditures.
His latest campaign finance report from March 10 shows a good number of four-figure contributions from his legal colleagues, as well as a $300,000 loan from Spiva itself. Spiva won’t file another report until June 10, just 11 days before the primary, so it’s unclear how he’s paying for the ad or whether he’s loaned the campaign more money since then.
But his latest report suggests that absent that big loan, he doesn’t have the kind of cash to afford such an ad buy. He said he had about $490,000 in the bank as of March 10 (including the $300,000 loan).
For comparison, McDuffie declared more than $730,000 in cash on the same deadline, while Schwalb had just over $119,000. (A month later, McDuffie took $832,000 to the bank, and Schwalb had risen to $655,000 after receiving matching funds for a fair election.) ryan jonesa solo practitioner completing the AG field, said just over $5,000 in the bank as of April 10.
So it seems a safe bet that Spiva will have to keep pouring in its own money if it wants to stay on the air and keep up with its rivals, especially if the DC Court of Appeals overturns the Board of Elections decision and lets McDuffie stay. on the ballot.
But could Spiva’s expensive gamble work and break the momentum of what was shaping up to be a two-man race between Racine’s pick and the presumed favorite? There are still no public polls to point in any direction, although LL has heard of a few private polls. Only time will really tell.