Schrader plans series of broadcast TV ads Adviser says spots target commuters

October 16, 1998|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Republican Dennis R. Schrader will use his big-money advantage in the county executive's race to reach more voters over the next two weeks with $10,000 in broadcast television ads, the first time a candidate for a Howard County office has taken a campaign beyond the reach of local cable TV.

With roughly $170,000, Schrader has raised more than twice as much as his opponent, Democrat James N. Robey, with significant help from developers. Today, the first-term county councilman expects to reap as much as $25,000 more with the help of wealthy developer Kingdon Gould Jr., who will be host for a $500-a-person fund-raiser at his home.

Schrader has used the money to run a full-scale, modern campaign that has given him more exposure than Robey has received.

The latest 30-second spot, in which Schrader is pictured in his living room talking mostly about his family, is scheduled to run weekdays between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. during the top-rated "Today" show on Baltimore's WBAL-11 and "Fox Morning News" Washington's Channel 5. The spot will run weekends during WBAL's morning news shows, in addition to running 15 times every day on cable locally.

The ads are aimed at "your bedroom-community commuters who aren't as plugged in to the inside politics in the county," said Columbia pollster Brad Coker, a Schrader adviser. "You sort of reach them by doing early morning [spots]. That's where their greatest source of information is regarding Howard County."

Robey said yesterday that he won't have the money to match Schrader's $9,950 ad buy -- which may be expanded to include some evening slots in the final week before Nov. 3. The former Howard County police chief originally projected that he would raise $150,000 to $200,000 in his inaugural political campaign; now, his revised target is $100,000, and he is about $20,000 short of that.

"They must have lots of money, that's all I can say," Robey said, referring to his opponent's broadcast television purchase. "I wish I could do it."

Robey's only remaining public fund-raiser is a $5-a-person pancake breakfast Sunday at Savage Volunteer Fire Department.

Despite Schrader's fund-raising lead, the 45-year-old Republican continues to canvass for big contributions. This morning, Gould, a commercial and residential developer who has had projects in the county and elsewhere, is sponsoring a breakfast fund-raiser on Schrader's behalf at his home on Murray Hill Road.

Schrader said yesterday he expects about 50 guests, including Republican U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., to attend -- although he insisted the crowd would not be "developer-centric."

The broadcast purchase is in part a response to new limitations on the amount of cable TV time a local candidate can buy.

Four years ago, candidates could purchase up to 60 spots per channel each week, meaning, in theory, they could saturate the airwaves with ads aired every two hours. Now, the cable company has restricted the number of slots that are available. Candidates can buy only 21 spots per channel each week this year.

"The rules of the game changed in this election," said Coker, the media consultant. "Cable just is not as powerful as it was even four years ago, eight years ago."

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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