U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci is defending a political strategy that has him shifting his television advertising from broadcast TV to cable in the last weeks before Election Day.
Renacci, a Wadsworth Republican who’s in a heated race with U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, made national news this week when the strategy was revealed.
Sutton supporters seized on the issue and claimed Renacci was abandoning the campaign since he reportedly dumped more than $800,000 worth of broadcast time that had been reserved.
“We’re not giving up on the race and we’re very comfortable where we are,” Renacci campaign spokesman James Slepian said Friday.
He added that Renacci ads will still be on television.
The Renacci-Sutton race is one of the most expensive and most watched House races in the country. Both incumbent congressional members were lumped into the same 16th District — which includes portions of Cuyahoga, Medina, Portage, Stark and all of Wayne County — when lines were redrawn following the 2010 census.
Slepian said the Renacci campaign had decided early on to focus on broadcast television in August, September and early October and then back off for more targeted cable television purchases, direct marketing and phone efforts.
Despite earlier reports, Renacci ads will continue to be on broadcast television, Slepian added, but not as much.
“We wanted to get out to a broad audience early and we did that,” he said.
Renacci told the New York Times earlier this week that the television market was saturated with political advertising and people weren’t paying attention anymore.
Steve Fought, a Sutton campaign spokesman, said broadcast television remains effective with voters so he’s confused about the strategy, which might cost Renacci the election.
“I don’t know why he did it but it’s a mistake of the first order and helps Betty Sutton,” he said.
“I cannot find a political consultant anywhere who thinks this was a good idea,” he added. “It’s like unilateral disarmament … It’s the crucial time of the campaign and they decide to pack it in.”