Gainesville gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal will make his TV debut this morning.
Deal has recorded a campaign commercial that will air throughout the metro Atlanta media market until the July 20 primary.
“The ads, which were shot here in Hall County, show Nathan in a pastoral setting by a fence walking toward two of his grandsons who are fishing. He talks about his record as a conservative champion who will bring those credentials and that conservative vision to the Georgia governorship,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the Deal campaign.
Deal’s commercials will join ads from other major candidates such as Eric Johnson and John Oxendine, who have already started to appear on the air.
Robinson said Deal chose to run the ads in the Atlanta market because broadcasts reach such a large swath of the population.
“It covers probably half the state,” Robinson said. “You reach the most folks in the Atlanta market. All candidates are going to focus their resources in that market because it’s the most efficient use of campaign (money).”
Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, said television ads are an important element in statewide campaigns.
“The candidates running statewide, usually the largest items in their budgets are television expenditures,” Bullock said. “We’ve got a state with somewhere approaching 10 million people ... The way you introduce yourself when you have a population the size of Georgia is to go on television.”
Bullock said the TV spots will be especially important for candidates with regional popularity.
“None of these individuals, with the possible exception of Roy Barnes, is a household name,” Bullock said. “Eric Johnson represented a district down in Savannah. People outside of Savannah probably don’t know who he is. Nathan Deal has been in Congress for 18 years, but again if you didn’t live in his district, which is one-thirteenth of the state, you probably didn’t know who he is. Karen Handel and John Oxendine, not household words, though some people would know them because they ran state wide.”
Robinson said the TV advertisements have always been part of Deal’s campaign strategy to get his name out to voters.
“It’s going to speed up the momentum we’re already seeing,” Robinson said. “The metro Atlanta TV market is how you reach voters.”
But Deal is not abandoning voters in other areas of the state.
“With our social media, with our Facebook page, e-mail, mail pieces that go out, we’re able to reach an audience anywhere in the state,” Robinson said. “We do a lot of meetings with grassroots supporters and grassroots organizations. We’ve been in communities all over the state.”
Bullock said the metro Atlanta TV market is especially important for Republican candidates because TV ads tend to be less effective elsewhere.
“Republican voters are more concentrated in the metro Atlanta area. You go into small, rural counties in the state and those voters may vote Republican for president, but those tend to be counties where often your local office holders remain Democrats and quite frankly, people are more concerned about who their sheriff is than who there U.S. senator is,” Bullock said.
But Johnson, a former state senator from Savannah, has aired commercials in all markets in an effort to reach voters, said spokesman Ben Fry.
“Eric is a statewide candidate and we are running a statewide campaign,” Fry said. “It’s a substantial buy, and at different points in the campaign we’ve been in different markets around the state... He doeesn’t have to rely on regional strongholds.”
Bullock said no matter where TV ads air, their main purpose is to get the names of candidates into voters’ minds.
“Essentially what these people are trying to do is buy name recognition,” Bullock said.