Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In nearly every commercial break, Twin Cities television stations are airing ads bashing incumbent Republican Wisconsin State Senator Sheila Harsdorf for giving corporations and millionaires tax breaks, and bashing Shelly Moore for wanting to give government health care to illegal immigrants.
So, why are Minnesotans seeing political ads for Wisconsin elections?
“If you’re living in Western Wisconsin, you’re getting Twin Cities television stations,” said Larry Jacobs, from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School for Public Affairs.
Jacobs pointed out that many in Hudson and River Falls work in the Twin Cities, and political advertisers are savvy enough to try to capture those people, too.
“If you’re traveling here, you’re maybe watching the TV at work or over the lunch hour,” he said.
Obviously, TV signals don’t just stop at state lines, but the 10th Senate District in Wisconsin is essentially made up of the east metro of the Twin Cities. The district hugs the state line, with the largest cities Hudson and River Falls just 30 miles or so from the WCCO-TV transmitter in Shoreview.
“If you want to have an impact on a recall election in Wisconsin, doing ads in the Twin Cities is a way to reach a whole lot of folks,” said Jacobs.
He pointed out that now U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaak used this strategy when he was running for office. He bought ads in his district in Duluth, but also in the metro Twin Cities.
“TV is a terrific medium for getting out a message and particularly for driving turnout,” said Jacobs.
Turnout is important, of course, in a recall election where only one race is on the ballot.
“This is a good investment, if they’ve got the money,” he said.
Twin Cities TV time is expensive, which is why independent groups backed by unions or business are buying the ads.
“It’s nothing we are considering, it’s just cost-prohibitive,” said Hannah Ledford, spokeswoman for the Moore campaign who works for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “The reason they’re buying: most people in the senate district watch Minnesota Television. It’s simply what they have access to.”