Vince Gray targets his base in new radio ads


New radio ads target Gray’s devoted base of black voters. (Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post)

Days after his leading challenger announced her campaign is advertising on television ahead of the April 1 primary, Mayor Vincent C. Gray is rolling out a series of new radio ads aimed at his base of African American residents.

Gray’s spots will appear on WMMJ-FM (“Majic 102.3), WKYS-FM (93.9) and WPRS-FM (“Praise 104.1″) — three of the area’s highest-rated stations among black listeners.

Campaign manager Chuck Thies says those station’s devotees can expect to hear Gray “saturation” through Election Day on Tuesday. “We bought every available slot,” he said, a “significant, five-figure” purchase of airtime.

The ads feature dialog between two Gray supporters, Peter Brooks and Ann Taylor, who are also working on his campaign.



In one spot, Taylor says she has “heard people say a lot of stuff about Mayor Vince Gray, but let me tell you the truth, Vince Gray is creating jobs.” Brooks then goes on to promote Gray’s record on employment, affordable housing and education, including praise from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: “Wow, Obama noticed the great work that Mayor Gray is doing with education,” he says.

Another spot highlights Gray’s efforts for seniors and longtime residents: “Mayor Gray is lowering property taxes for senior citizens,” Brooks says, a reference to a D.C. Council bill Gray signed this week exempting some seniors from property taxes. “My dad is 86, and because of Vince Gray he can afford to keep his home. … Mayor Gray wants to be sure that people from D.C. can always afford to live in D.C.”

Both spots include this line, a glancing reference to the corruption allegations facing Gray: “Those politicians who say stuff about Vince Gray don’t care about us, Ann,” Brooks says.

“No, they don’t, Peter, and that’s why I don’t listen to them,” Taylor says, adding: “He’s my main man. He’s my mayor.”

While Gray is microtargeting his base with his ad buys, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser — reflective of her more even support among demographic groups — is reaching a broader audience with her $107,000 worth of TV ads. They are set to air on all four local network affiliates as well as Comcast cable

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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