Van the Man? Or, Not So Much?
Today the Waco Herald-Tribune ran a story about how the Republican National Congressional Committee is all but abandoning Republican Van Taylor, an Iraq War veteran trying to oust Democrat Chet Edwards from his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stories like this have been all the rage during this young week: The New York Times yesterday ran a story in which Republican leaders said they were pulling money from likely losers in order to spend their dough on candidates who actually stand a chance against Democratic challengers, and a similar story appeared last night on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
But here's the very odd thing about the story: Dan Genz reports that an RNCC-funded "advertising campaign costing more than $1 million—similar to one benefiting the last Republican nominee to challenge Edwards two years ago—has been pulled, according to Edwards' sources at five Dallas TV stations." One of those stations mentioned in the story was "Dallas area" KDAV-TV, where Ganz spoke to sales manager Steve McDonald. The other four are never named.
There's one small problem: There is no station in Dallas, or the state of Texas, with the call letters KDAV, only a radio station in Lubbock that goes by the nickname "K-Dave." Now, that's probably just a typo. After Unfair Park made a few calls, I did find Steve McDonald working at KDAF-Channel 33, the local CW affiliate.
What really struck me as odd about the Waco piece was this: Why would the RNCC, which describes itself as a "political committee devoted to increasing the 231-member Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives," buy ads in Dallas for a candidate running for office in the Congressional 17th District? It ain't exactly a backyard race in these parts: The district runs from south of Tarrant County to Brazos County and includes among its many small towns President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford. And if they were going to spend on Taylor, would they really spend a million bucks on the young former Marine in an ad buy at a Dallas station, of all places?
The RNCC won't confirm its advertising plans--what it's running and where, and how much the RNCC's spending per candidate--but Steve McDonald says there wasn't even a confirmed ad buy in place at his station, for Taylor or any other RNCC-funded candidate.
"We had a tentative order, I guess I could call it, from the RNCC, but I didn't have a product assigned to it," McDonald says. "It wasn't canceled...They wanted us to reserve time, and we don't do that. The reporter [from Waco] said, 'Well, they've issued a statement saying they have purchased time but have canceled it or are not going forward with it.' Now, I said they did cancel a schedule, but I don't know what it's for. Basically they aren't canceling anything, since they didn't put in an order for anything."
McDonald does say the request to hold space had come from Crossroads Media out of Alexandria, Virginia, which has placed millions of dollars' worth of ads for Republican candidates in recent weeks. But McDonald figured the ads were going to be for Governor Rick Perry. McDonald says that KDAF has never run an ad for Chet Edwards and that he'd never even heard of Van Taylor till the reporter from Waco asked him about the yanking of the ad buy.
As for his station's broadcast range and whether Taylor ads would even reach people who could vote for the guy, McDonald says, "it might have reached the most northern realm of his district," but he's not sure it would be money well spent. Now, McDonald says he has heard at least one ad for Taylor on KRLD-AM (1080), but that would make sense; you can pick up the station's signal south of Waco and well beyond.
Meanwhile, we just gave Van Taylor about 4.13 cents' worth of free advertising. Waytago, Van. --Robert Wilonsky