Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine will begin running two biographical television ads in statewide markets Monday morning, including his first on broadcast stations in the costly Northern Virginia region, campaign aides said.
The two 30-second spots portray Kaine as an effective leader who fought crime, built schools and lowered taxes. They also repeatedly show Kaine working closely with Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), who is leaving office in January with high poll ratings.
"This is another example of a way of further introducing Tim Kaine," said press secretary Delacey Skinner. "We're really looking at his record in public service: what he accomplished as mayor of Richmond, what he's accomplished with Mark Warner."
A spokesman for Republican candidate Jerry W. Kilgore said the late-summer ads indicate that Kaine is behind in the race and is desperate to make up ground before the sprint after Labor Day to the Nov. 8 finish line.
"Everybody understands the state of the race, which explains why he feels the need to go up on TV first," said Kilgore press secretary Tim Murtaugh. "He thinks he's got some ground to make up."
Kaine advisers disputed that characterization. They said recent public polls show the race to be a dead heat. And Skinner said recent attacks by Kilgore on Kaine's record suggest that the Republican "knows a lot about desperation."
Political analysts said Virginia voters should expect a deluge of advertising in the next two months as both candidates begin to spend the millions of dollars in their war chests. Both candidates had about $5 million on hand July 1.
Political observers said they expect Kilgore to attack Kaine's positions on abortion, gun control, the death penalty and taxes. Kaine will probably attack Kilgore's opposition to the 2004 tax increase, which helped pay for schools, teachers, health care and police officers.
Monday's ads, however, are largely biographical.
In "Machine Shop," the ad opens with Kaine and Warner sitting at a conference table. Kaine pounds his fist on the table as an announcer says: "Tim Kaine. Lieutenant Governor. Mayor. Family man."
Kaine then talks about laboring in his dad's ironworking shop, being a missionary in Honduras and cutting taxes as mayor of Richmond. The ad ends with Kaine claiming credit for helping Warner and Republican lawmakers "put Virginia's financial house in order."
The second spot, "All Sides," starts with Kaine at a town hall meeting, talking about "bringing Republicans and Democrats, people from all sides, together to solve problems." It shows Kaine in a police car and a school library and with Warner.
Both ads continue to stress themes that Kaine believes will help him win, saying he is tough on crime, fiscally responsible and committed to schools and has cut taxes.
The ads say Kaine "cut taxes" in Richmond but do not specify that he is talking about reductions in the tax rate that took effect while he was mayor and on the City Council. The ads say he helped build the first new schools in Richmond in decades.
"We're emphasizing his intention and his vision to continue moving Virginia forward on the track of progress that we've been on," Skinner said.
But Republicans called the ads misleading. They said overall property tax bills went up in Richmond during Kaine's time there, with the rise in assessed home values overwhelming the cuts in the tax rate. And they said Richmond had among the worst crime rates in the state while Kaine was mayor. Kaine was on the City Council from 1994 to 2001 and mayor from 1998 to 2001.
Last week, Kilgore, a former state attorney general, and fellow Republican Thomas J. Bliley Jr., a former Richmond mayor, launched a new attack, calling Kaine a mediocre mayor. Murtaugh said Sunday that he was pleased to see Kaine emphasizing his mayoral credentials.
"The fact is, under his influence, Richmond had among the highest crime rates in the commonwealth, the schools were consistently ranked near the bottom statewide, and people paid more in taxes," Murtaugh said.
GOP rival Jerry W. Kilgore's campaign attacked Kaine's effectiveness as Richmond's mayor.