First sign of life from State Treasurer Fitzgerald's campaign (updated)

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald has been mostly invisible during this year’s campaign. As the longest-serving state treasurer in the country and a survivor of the 1994 Republican wave, Fitzgerald may have less reason to be worried than other Democratic incumbents. Still, I’ve been wondering when he was going to get around to asking voters to re-elect him.

Today I caught the first television commercial for Fitzgerald’s campaign. As far as I know, it went up on the air this week. I haven’t found a video to embed here, but my transcript and description of the visuals are after the jump, along with the transcript of the radio ad Fitzgerald’s opponent is running. UPDATE: I’ve added the script for Fitzgerald’s radio commercial.

30-second ad by Iowans for Fitzgerald:

Male voice-over: He’s always looking out for Iowans. [Combination of outdoor scene, a newspaper headline that reads “Smart Cash,” what looks like a brochure for the Great Treasure Hunt]

Michael Fitzgerald. [official photo of Fitzgerald with words “Michael Fitzgerald State Treasurer” on screen]

He created the College Savings Iowa plan to help young people and their families. Over 2.2 billion dollars invested. [what looks like brochure with information about the 529 college savings plan, words on screen “$2.2 billion Invested in College Funds”]

Michael Fitzgerald. [official photo of Fitzgerald with words “Michael Fitzgerald State Treasurer” on screen]

Returned over 120 million dollars in unclaimed property with the Great Treasure Hunt. [treasure hunt brochure, also document that reads, “Is your name on the unclaimed money list?” words on screen: “Returned over $120 million”]

Michael Fitzgerald. [official photo of Fitzgerald with words “Michael Fitzgerald State Treasurer” on screen]

His leadership and sound fiscal management has saved taxpayer dollars [newspaper headline that reads, “Truth is spelled AAA,” computer screens in background]

and is making Iowa more competitive. [someone working at a computer, words “More competitive” on screen]

Innovative. Getting results. [official photo of Fitzgerald on right, words “INNOVATIVE RESULTS” on left]

Michael Fitzgerald. Working for Iowa, working for you. [official photo remains on right, words on left change to “Michael Fitzgerald Working for Iowa”; at bottom of screen “Paid for by Iowans for Fitzgerald”]

In style and content, this commercial resembles the campaign ad Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro is running. The announcer summarizes key achievements and mentions the incumbent’s name several times. The name is also on screen, along with the incumbent’s picture, to reinforce the message and build name recognition. Mauro and Fitzgerald are able to stick to a positive campaign because their opponents lack the funds for extensive advertising against the incumbent. Attorney General Tom Miller doesn’t have the same luxury and has combined a positive ad with a negative spot on his challenger.

Fitzgerald’s latest campaign disclosure form showed about $5,000 in spending on radio advertising as well as $55,000 for “commercial production and media buy,” which I assume was for this television commercial. Fitzgerald also had $94,073.49 cash on hand as of October 14, and I would guess the bulk of that will be spent on television advertising this week. I haven’t heard his campaign’s radio ad yet, but will update this post with the content if I do.

To my knowledge, the Republican candidate for state treasurer, Dave Jamison, isn’t currently running television commercials. Earlier this month he launched a radio ad. My transcript:

Jamison: Iowa families have to live on a budget. Shouldn’t state government? This is Dave Jamison. I’m running for state treasurer because state government is spending too much, with no accountability. As treasurer, I’ll protect taxpayer dollars by ending lavish contracts for out-of-state firms. I’ll increase transparency by putting state spending records online. And I’ll fight for tough fiscal decisions now, not more borrowing that pushes debt onto our kids. I’m Dave Jamison, and I’m asking for your vote for state treasurer. Paid for by Jamison for Treasurer, Doug Cline treasurer.

I am so tired of Republican rhetoric about state government not living on a budget. In case Jamison hadn’t noticed, Iowa has a balanced budget and was just ranked the third best-run state in America, partly because of our sound fiscal management. I also don’t like the way Jamison implies that the state borrowed money to avoid “tough fiscal decisions.” The I-JOBS infrastructure bonding program was 100 percent dedicated to capital investments, not paying the state’s bills. I’ll give Jamison credit for one thing: making state spending records accessible online would be valuable.

Jamison’s disclosure form showed more than $30,000 in expenditures for radio advertising, by far his largest campaign expense. Other than that, he has visited all 99 counties this year and frequently appears with other GOP candidates at rallies. He objects to Fitzgerald’s management of the state pension fund IPERS and has slammed Fitzgerald for having Deputy State Treasurer Karen Austin serve as his campaign treasurer. On the whole, his campaign has received little media coverage. The exception was a joint press conference with secretary of state candidate Matt Schultz, objecting to Fitzgerald’s appearance in advertisements for College Savings Iowa and the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. Jamison didn’t acknowledge that the Treasurer’s Office routinely promotes those programs in September, whether or not it’s an election year.

Any thoughts about the state treasurer’s race are welcome in this thread. I think Fitzgerald is favored for re-election. He should be thankful the Republican Party of Iowa, its major donors and allied groups like the American Future Fund didn’t go after him the way they went after Tom Miller.

UPDATE: The Fitzgerald campaign sent me an audio clip of his radio ad. My transcript:

Unidentified woman: I’m voting Michael Fitzgerald for state treasurer.

Fitzgerald: This is State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald. I’m a fiscal conservative working for you. I took the values I learned growing up on an Iowa farm and put them to work. Through a professional approach to managing Iowa’s money, I have earned over one billion dollars in interest for the state. That reduces your taxes. I have returned over 120 million dollars to Iowans through the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. And I created College Savings Iowa to help Iowans save. Over 100 thousand children now have money saved for their college. Vote Fitzgerald and I will continue my work for you. I will promote good money management for the state, while helping Iowans with their money management through programs such as the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, College Savings Iowa, the Iowa Women and Money Conference and much more. This is State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald. I’m a fiscal conservative working for you, and I am asking for your vote.

Unidentified woman: I’m voting Michael Fitzgerald for state treasurer on November second.

Fitzgerald: Paid for by Iowans for Fitzgerald.

Sounds like Fitzgerald expects a strong Republican wave. I don’t like it when Democrats brag about being “fiscal conservatives,” because that reinforces the frame that Republicans are more fiscally responsible–which isn’t accurate. Repeating the key points and the candidate’s name many times in the ad is smart, though.

The Fitzgerald campaign is running the radio ad on the Radio Iowa Network, “with some additional in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids mainly, and a few smaller stations.” The tv ad is on the air in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City.

NOVEMBER 1 UPDATE: The Republican Party of Iowa is now running radio ads criticizing Fitzgerald. I heard them several times in the car today. I don’t have the script, but the gist was that Fitzgerald keeps Iowa money in a New York bank, brought us “1.7 billion dollars in job-killing debt,” and had half a billion dollars stolen from Iowa’s pension fund. Republicans just can’t stop lying about the I-JOBS bond program. Repayment costs are around $1.2 billion, not $1.7 billion. Also, I-JOBS isn’t “job-killing” by any stretch of the imagination. Anyway, the commercial says it’s time for a change with Dave Jamison.

FINAL UPDATE: Jamison has also raised questions about a Massachusetts man who donated to Fitzgerald’s campaign between 2003 and 2008, when the donor was affiliated with a company that just won an Iowa Lottery contract.

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