“There is a lot to celebrate in our commonwealth,’’ the Republican said in a statement Tuesday. “This ad highlights some of the men and women driving this recovery, while noting all that has been accomplished over the past two years.”
McDonnell’s political action committee, Opportunity Virginia, will pay for the ads, which are expected to cost nearly $400,000 on broadcast TV and cable through May 6, according to several people who are familiar with the spots but were not authorized to speak for the governor. The ads will air in Washington, Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk and Charlottesville.
Some Republicans privately said Tuesday that they are disappointed that McDonnell will not be spending all of the PAC’s money on GOP efforts this fall, when Virginia will play a crucial role in the presidential race and the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
McDonnell denied knowledge of the campaign last week after The Washington Post reported that the ads were imminent. “You know you can’t believe everything in the paper,’’ said McDonnell, who is prohibited from seeking another term and has been mentioned as a likely GOP vice presidential contender . “There’s nothing else planned. I don’t know where those reports have come from.’’
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin and Phil Cox, the governor’s top political adviser, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is one of the most popular governors in the nation. However, his approval ratings have dipped in recent months after the General Assembly delayed approving a state budget and passed a bill that would require a woman to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.
In March, 53 percent of voters approved of McDonnell’s job performance, down five percentage points from Feb. 9, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Thirty-two percent of voters disapproved. That was the lowest rating for McDonnell since the independent Quinnipiac began Virginia surveys in June 2011.
In his release, McDonnell credited the economic growth in part to bipartisan efforts in Richmond, although Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate could not agree on a state budget, prompting a special session. The budget was delayed by six weeks.