And now, a message from—WHO?

  I heard my first honest-to-goodness campaign ad on South FL airwaves this morning, and it was another reminder of how deliciously unpredictable this campaign is.  Darned if it wasn’t an announcer extolling the virtues of Ron Paul on WIOD radio.  Ron Paul!  If you’d asked me six months ago which candidate would be the first to reach out to me on the airwaves, Ron Paul might have been my 10th guess.  Maybe my 12th.

  Overall, the ’08 campaign has been a huge disappointment to local media sales managers like my buddy at NBC 6, Larry Olevitch.  Larry was hoping for a bonanza when Florida moved its primary up to January.  Those old March timetables didn’t do much for broadcasters’ bottom lines, since presidential races were often decided by the time FL voted (hey, John Edwards dropped out the week before our primary, in ’04).
  But January– that would be different.  Larry had hopes of politicians and retail giants fighting for air time during the Christmas holiday season, if well-financed campaigns got cranked up early.  
  Then–Democratic candidates agreed to The Pledge, agreed not to campaign or advertise in Florida to punish us for throwing their primary/caucus timetable into disarray.  Those Democrats, hugely fearful of offending voters in Iowa, NH, South Carolina and Nevada, stuck religiously to The Pledge (see my October blogs about Barack Obama’s visit to Tampa).  
  Among GOP candidates, Mitt Romney did air some early “Get to know me” ads in FL, but they were either upstate (where advertising dollars buy more Republican eyes and ears than in the expensive Miami/Ft. Laud. market) or in Spanish, the first language of so many South FL Republicans.  Mitt’s pulled his media money out of the Sunshine State for now, pouring it all into Michigan.
  Rudy Giuliani’s on the air in Florida now, though–again– not on south Florida English-language stations.  Rudy’s desperate to win our votes, but his campaign appears a little frayed financially, and air time’s awfully expensive down here.
  McCain and Huckabee and Thompson are focussed elsewhere.  So that leaves Ron Paul.
  The libertarian Republican has plenty of dough– his internet fund-raising is one of the big “inside baseball” political stories of the year (maybe not so inside baseball– two people to whom I mentioned the Ron Paul ad immediately responded “Hey, he raised $19-million last quarter!”).  
  My friend Larry and South FL political junkies may be sad not to have seen and heard more political advertising, but many South Floridians may be relieved. Remember the ad fatigue so many complained of in October ’04?  

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