MONTPELIER — Republican Scott Milne has released his first video ad against longtime U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, but the ad will only run online and not on television.
Milne, the Republican who nearly toppled Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in the 2014 gubernatorial race, has struggled to gain traction against Leahy, who is seeking his eighth term in Washington. Milne’s campaign has largely focused his campaign on attacking Leahy for being a “career politician.” Until this week he did not even have an issues section on his campaign website.
In the 30-second video ad, Milne continues his assault on Leahy’s longevity in Washington.
“Career Politician Patrick Leahy has caught the bug. The DiCa virus from spending too many decades in D.C.,” a narrator says in the ad, shortening District of Columbia into a play on the Zika virus.
The narrator goes on to knock Leahy for collecting “over $3 million in special interest contributions,” helping donors secure government contracts and for living “in a $1.3 million house in a fancy D.C. suburb.”
“Save Patrick Leahy. Vote him out of D.C.,” the narrator says.
In a statement announcing the ad, Milne, continuing the virus theme, said Leahy “demonstrates all the symptoms of having spent too long in Washington, D.C.”
“After 42 years inside the beltway and millions in special interest contributions, Leahy suffers from an advanced case of an ailment that attacks all too many professional politicians. It’s why I support term limits and true campaign finance reform. Voters deserve a fresh voice who has not been infected by the ways of Washington,” Milne said.
The ad comes after Leahy has launched two television ads of his own. One touts how Leahy helped the state secure federal funding following Tropical Storm Irene. The other highlights Leahy’s efforts to boost school lunch programs.
Leahy spokesman Jay Tilton denounced Milne’s ad the continuation of a negative campaign against Leahy.
“This is just the latest in Mr. Milne’s 100 percent negative campaign, and it clearly fails his own “clean campaign” pledge. Sen. Leahy will continue to run a positive, issue oriented campaign as he always has,” Tilton said.
Elise Milne, Milne’s daughter and campaign manager, declined to discuss where the ad will run or how much the campaign is spending on it, saying the campaign is “not sharing our strategy with regard to spending, placement, or timing of ads.”
She said the ad “fits in with our campaign’s positive, clean government reform message.” The campaign pledge “relates to campaign finance,” she said.
“We have not and will not accept any special interest money. Sen. Leahy declined to accept the challenge even though he had previously called for spending limits and prohibiting PAC money, two of the primary proposals of the clean campaign pledge. This is exactly the sort of DiCa symptom of saying one thing while doing another that we are referring to with this ad,” Elise Milne said.
According to Federal Election Commission filings through July 20, Leahy’s campaign has raised more than $3.2 million, while Milne has raised just under $32,000, including more than $9,000 of his own money.