Businessman Tim Burns (R) is the first candidate to hit the TV airwaves in the special election to fill the late Rep. John Murtha's (D-Pa.) seat. The 30-second spot, "Storyville," is a biographical ad showcasing Burns' roots in the southwestern 12th district.
Burns' message that he is a socially conservative candidate is clear by his emphasis on his faith, anti-abortion-rights and pro-gun stances in the advertisement. What Burns doesn't say in the spot is his party affiliation — an interesting move given that in addition to running in the May 18 special election, he is also running for the GOP nomination for a full term. In that contest he faces 2008 GOP nominee Bill Russell.
Because the special election is being held on the same day as the statewide primaries, Democratic turnout is expected to be high because of a marquee Democratic gubernatorial race. That means Burns might want to downplay his party affiliation in an effort to boost his chances in the special election.
According to Burns spokesman Kent Gates, the ad buy is "significant" and includes both cable and broadcast in the Pittsburgh and Johnstown media markets. Gates said that Burns will likely show close to $250,000 in the bank, which includes a significant infusion of personal funds, when the first-quarter filing period closes on Wednesday.
Democrats have picked Mark Critz, a top aide to Murtha, to run as their nominee in the special election and in the regularly scheduled Democratic primary on May 18.