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Eric Cantor Up With Campaign Ads

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s campaign launched its first ad of the 2012 election season, touting his upcoming small-business tax cut measure.

Although the Virginia Republican is not facing a serious challenge this year, Cantor spokesman Ray Allen explained today that the campaign decided to run the ads to coincide with the House consideration of his measure to cut small-business owners’ taxes.

“The timing works very well for us ... the time is good all around,” Allen said,

According to GOP sources, the 30-second ad will run over the next three weeks and features small business owners from Cantor’s hometown of Richmond. The ad will air in the Virginia media market, where the bulk of Cantor’s district is located.

According to Allen and GOP operatives, it is not unusual for Cantor to run ads even when he is not facing a significant challenge from Democrats. “Eric always goes up on TV with ads ... whether he has an opponent or not. What’s different is they’re doing it earlier,” one veteran GOP operative said today.

In addition to the timing with the small business bill, the ads also come at an opportune time in the 2012 cycle. With Virginia expected to be a battleground at the Senate and presidential levels, prices for ads are expected to skyrocket in the coming months. By hitting the airwaves now, Cantor is able to take advantage of a lull in advertising this spring to introduce himself to his new constituents.

By “getting out before the rates go sky high [and] the inventory gets scarce ... he’s communicating to all of these new people in a complete and utter vacuum. And that’s where you always want to be,” the operative said.

Under Cantor’s bill, small businesses with 499 or fewer employees would be able to deduct up to 20 percent of their income taxes, which could total up to 50 percent of the wages they pay employees.

The bill does not include a so-called sin exclusion for businesses such as strip clubs, a point that Democrats have hammered Cantor on.

“This TV ad is a promo for Eric Cantor’s reality show, where Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Larry Flynt get a big tax break while the middle class is voted off the island,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson.

Cantor has defended how he wrote the bill, noting he was using the definition of a small business used by the Small Business Administration and arguing that Congress does not routinely make those types of exclusions in the general tax code.

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