Levine buys TV ads for last weeks of Virginia District 8 congressional primary campaign

Congressional candidate Mark Levine, who’s running in the crowded Democratic primary to replace U.S. Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), announced Monday that he will spend “a minimum of several hundred thousand dollars over the next three weeks on TV alone.”

Levine, a wealthy attorney and talk show host who dubs himself “the aggressive progressive,” mentions his former boss, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and his hero, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in the television ad. He is hoping to raise his profile and offer voters an alternative to front-runner Don Beyer, the only one of the seven primary candidates to have bought a significant amount of air time so far.

Beyer, Virginia’s former lieutenant governor and a former ambassador to Switzerland, has led the field in fund-raising. He made a six-figure cable-television ad buy in April.

Beyer, who owns a chain of auto-dealerships, also gets airtime from public radio sponsorship messages purchased by his business. But local public radio station WAMU-FM suspended those ads Monday while its lawyers investigate whether they “promote, support, attack or oppose” other candidates, which would be prohibited by Federal Election Commission rules.

Patrick Hope, another candidate in the race, called for other stations to pull the dealership’s ads as well, because they mention Beyer by name.

But Beyer said the dealership has run similar ads during his three prior statewide elections without any problem. Those races were not subject to FEC rules.

“Never before has a Republican or Democratic opponent characterized the company’s advertising as unfair,” Beyer said in a statement. “The Beyer auto dealerships have been supporting public radio for 30 years . . . We are disappointed by WAMU’s decision, which we believe will have no impact on our family’s car sales, nor on our commitment to support public radio in the years to come.”

Levine, who has loaned his campaign $250,000 of the $323,000 in campaign funds he has reported to the FEC, will also buy radio and cable ads, he said. The other Democratic candidates — Hope, Adam Ebbin, Lavern Chatman, Bill Euille and Derek Hyra — mostly have used their campaign funds for direct-mail and campaign yard signs. Euille bought some cable television ads in April.

The primary election is June 10. Virginia’s 8th congressional district covers Falls Church, Alexandria, Arlington County and part of Fairfax County.

Patricia Sullivan seeks out news about Alexandria and Arlington County for the Washington Post.
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