Mark Critz is putting his entire bankroll on the line. The Congressman has purchased $500-600K of television airtime between now and the primary. Meanwhile, Jason Altmire is buying TV at a slower pace with just $300K slated to go up by April 24th.
“You gotta win the primary before you go to the general,” said Critz campaign manager Mike Mikus.
A media buying source estimated Critz’s ad spending at just over $400,000 in the Pittsburgh media market and $75,000 in Johnstown. Critz’s campaign says it’s closer to $500,000 and $100,000, respectively, scheduled to ramp up as the primary nears.
That same source said Altmire was spending about $300,000 in the Pittsburgh market, and nothing in Johnstown.
Both campaigns have been on television for about a week so far.
“We’re running this thing to win it,” Mikus said. “Mark Critz is committed to this race.”
The campaign is planning to release additional spots, including negative ads against Altmire, but did not disclose further details.
Altmire’s campaign did not comment on its media plans, nor did it dispute the $300,000 figure. His campaign began the year with $800 to $850K to spend on the primary.
“We’re doing the buys we feel like we need to do,” said spokesman Richard Carbo regarding strategy.
Altmire’s decision not to go for broke is reflective of his campaign’s posture so far in the race: the belief that his position is strong because he currently represents 66 percent of constituents in the new 12th district – compared to just 28 percent for Critz.
Additionally, a polling memo released by the Altmire campaign last week showed him leading 55 percent to 31 percent.
is a tacit admission that Critz’z support in that part of the district – including parts of Cambria and Somerset counties – is rock solid. A Critz internal poll from February showed him leading 88 to 4 percent there.
After the buys are taken into account, Critz technically retains about $80,000 on hand. Those contributions are restricted to general election use.
The Republican candidate is Allegheny County attorney and 2010 congressional hopeful Keith Rothfus.