Zac Anderson Political Editor @zacjanderson
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is launching another early round of television advertising as he seeks re-election during a tough climate for Republicans.
Facing an energized Democratic electorate and a Democratic challenger who is raising considerable money, Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, is spending more than $200,000 on ads that will begin airing on Sarasota television stations Wednesday. That is in addition to a $128,000 ad buy last week that targeted the Hillsborough County portion of District 16.
The latest ad is aimed squarely at the District’s sizable population of independent voters. It highlights what Buchanan’s campaign calls “the congressman's independence and record of bipartisan accomplishments.”
Among other things, the ad — titled "Independent Leader Fighting For You" — touches on Buchanan’s record of filing animal protection legislation and his support for extending the federal ban on drilling off Florida’s coast.
Buchanan sponsored a bill last year with Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that would maintain the federal moratorium on oil drilling with 125 miles of Florida’s coast through 2027. The drilling ban is set to expire in 2022.
Buchanan also pushed legislation — which was included in a recent spending bill — that bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption and has been an outspoken advocate for protecting endangered species. He is co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus in Congress and recently was named the Humane Society’s legislator of the year.
Critics on the left have tried to paint Buchanan as a loyal vote for President Donald Trump and the GOP majority in Congress, arguing he has sided with Trump and congressional Republicans on nearly every big issue.
But Buchanan has shown independence from Trump and his party at times. He disagreed with Trump, for example, when the president announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord.
“Climate change is a serious threat,” Buchanan said at the time.
The latest ad indicates Buchanan’s campaign is acutely aware of the difficult political climate and eager to differentiate their candidate.
"Vern has a long and consistent record of independent leadership important to his district," said Buchanan campaign manager Max Goodman, adding that “Vern has always put the interests of his community before all others."
The ad comes as Siesta Key Democrat David Shapiro reports another big fundraising quarter. Shapiro has now raised more than $650,000 to take on Buchanan. Sarasota Democrat Jan Schneider also is running for the District 16 seat, which includes northern Sarasota County, Manatee County and part of southern Hillsborough County.
Buchanan raised $470,000 in the first quarter of 2018 and now has more than $2.5 million in cash on hand. It is unusual to spend so heavily on television advertising this early in a congressional race.
Goodman has said that the campaign’s decision to advertise early is an “offensive move.”
“At a time where the climate may be a little shaky, we’re making sure we get our message and our brand and Vern’s record of accomplishments out to the voting public,” Goodman said recently.
Source : http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180409/vern-buchanan-touts-independent-record-in-second-round-of-early-tv-ads?rssfeed=true