Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 | 2 a.m.
President Barack Obama’s soaring speeches calling to bridge the partisan divide don’t sound anything like the ad campaigns running in Nevada before the final votes on his $789 billion economic recovery package.
As the bill goes before the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats are dusting off their partisan playbooks in seeking the political advantage. Both sides are trying to nationalize races in Nevada and elsewhere when lawmakers are up for reelection in 2010. For many lawmakers, the coming vote could be the most important of their careers.
On the radio in Nevada, an ad urged Republican Sen. John Ensign not to be a Dittohead of Rush Limbaugh, who had said on his radio show he hopes Obama fails.
After Ensign voted against the Senate version of the bill Tuesday, a new ad from the same groups, Americans United for Change and the union AFSCME, asked on air: “Haven’t you ever wished you had a second chance to do the right thing?”
The “second chance” spot tells listeners to call Ensign’s office and urge him to support the bill when it comes up for a final vote.
Republicans are using the votes today to paint Democrats as big spenders, reaching back to an old party line against Democrats.
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, had been hit with an early TV ad in the northern part of the state for his backing of what it called a “$1 trillion” bill.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is now dashing off news releases against Reid and other senators who are up for reelection in 2010.
Thursday, Reid got hit in a piece headlined “Reid’s Pulled-Pork Platter” after it was reported that funding for high-speed rail grants nationwide was quadrupled to $8 billion in the final version of the legislation.
The proposed maglev train between Las Vegas and Los Angeles would be eligible to receive funds, but Reid’s office said money for any system would have to be won through competitive grants.
Rep. Dina Titus is among 30 House Democrats being targeted in an ad beginning today by the National Republican Campaign Committee.
Presuming she will support the bill a second time, the ad says: “Tell her she made a mistake.”
Titus is expected to face a difficult reelection in a district that, until her election in the fall, had been held by a Republican since its creation, in 2002.
Reid is considered among the more vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection in 2010, and Republicans have come out early hoping to take him on.
But Reid’s allies are also coming on strong. Unions and other groups have been running ads in Nevada supporting his leadership on the bill.
Ensign’s term does not expire until 2012, but groups are targeting him early. Ensign is now the fourth-ranking Republican in the Senate, from a state that has become more Democratic-leaning since he last won office.