Republican State Senator Brad Zaun's Congressional campaign launched new radio and television advertising this week. Here is the tv ad:
Brad Zaun: There's a plan for most of the problems that face America, it's called the Constitution, I'm Brad Zaun.
We need limited government, which means a repeal of Obamacare, and let's get back to the 10th Amendment and put the power in the hands of the people.
Anncr: Under Brad Zaun, Urbandale had the lowest tax rates and as Senator Brad Zaun has been recognized by business groups with a 100% pro-jobs voting record. Brad Zaun a proven conservative, getting it done.
Brad Zaun: I'm Brad Zaun and I approve this message.
This commercial is nowhere near as slick as Jim Gibbons' opening tv ad, but it's an improvement on the first Zaun commercial, which aired briefly in January. Zaun is still hitting very safe Republican themes, but unlike the first ad, the new commercial cites Zaun's record as mayor and state senator. None of the six other Republicans running for Congress in the third district has ever held elective office before. Zaun's opening radio ad also emphasizes his record:
BZ: You learn a lot when you own a hardware store for eighteen years, I'm Brad Zaun. I learned to meet a payroll, listen to my customers and during tough times, cut expenses. And that's what our country needs today.
Anncr: Under Brad Zaun's leadership as Mayor, Urbandale tightened its belt and enjoyed the lowest tax rates in the metro area and as Senator, Brad Zaun received a 100% rating from the Iowa Association of Business and Industry for supporting job creation.
BZ: In Congress, I'll vote to repeal Obamacare and support real health care reform that is market-driven and puts you in control of your own healthcare decisions. I will also vote to end wasteful earmarks...if you're looking for pork barrel spending; I'm not your candidate. And I'll push for a balanced budget amendment to force Washington to end the out of control spending. Let's take our country back. I'm Brad Zaun and I approve this message.
Anncr: Brad Zaun...Conservative...Republican....Proven Results. Paid for by Zaun for Congress
Gibbons has also talked about how his career has influenced his political beliefs and has made vague promises to "stop wasteful spending, lower taxes and grow Iowa jobs." But Zaun has a dash more "tea party" in his campaign message, bringing up the 10th amendment and "Obamacare" in the tv ad and bashing earmarks in his radio ad. Earmarks make up a miniscule and declining portion of federal spending, but it's a safe bet Republican primary voters aren't aware of that.
Zaun won't be able to run as many commercials as Gibbons before the June 8 primary. Republican insider Doug Gross has predicted Zaun will have a stronger ground game than Gibbons, while tea party favorite Dave Funk has support from the "ideologues." I am curious to see whether Gibbons ever makes a case against any of his Republican rivals. For now he seems to be relying on fame from his wrestling days and a large advertising budget.
The next debate featuring the third district Republican candidates will be hosted by the Des Moines Tea Party this Sunday evening, May 16. Funk and moderate Republican Mark Rees should probably try to do something to stand out from the crowd. If each of them can win 10-20 percent of the vote on June 8, it becomes much more likely that a district convention will decide which Republican will face Representative Leonard Boswell in November.
For what it's worth, most of the Democrats I talk to expect Zaun to be the eventual nominee, but if it goes to convention Funk cannot be counted out.
UPDATE: According to Kathie Obradovich, Gibbons, Rees, and Jason Welch (who hasn't campaigned at all) won't attend this Sunday's Tea Party debate. Gibbons declined because he doesn't do campaign events on Sundays.
SECOND UPDATE: In the comments, mirage says Gibbons has done campaign events on Sundays. Meanwhile, Rees explains why he is declining the Tea Party invitation to debate:
My initial concerns with the debate are of fairness and credibility. Although the Des Moines Tea Party has said it will not officially endorse a candidate in the Primary, one of my opponents is widely known and commonly accepted to be, "the Tea Party candidate." Furthermore, his campaign has been managed by a key organizer and leader of the Tea Party movement in Iowa. I believe these facts raise a large and legitimate red flag as to whether this debate will indeed provide a fair and level playing field for all of the candidates.
Next, recent news reports, along with my own interactions with Tea Party activists during this campaign, have left me deeply troubled by the tone, demeanor, and tactics of the movement.