John Fetterman’s campaign issued a “wake-up call” after being out-fundraised and outspent by Mehmet Oz and other Republican Super PACs supporting Oz’s candidacy for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, according to an internal memo obtained by Politico.
Although Fetterman has had a consistent advantage over Oz in the polls for months, his campaign is worried due to a sharp increase in pro-Oz campaign spending.
“I am writing with a wake-up call,” Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips wrote. “In the last three weeks alone, Republicans have spent nearly $12 million dollars — significantly outspending us and out-communicating on the airwaves. We cannot allow this to continue unabated.”
McPhillips’s concerns are valid, as recent data show that Oz and Republican Super PACs are ahead of Fetterman’s campaign in both television spending and the number of ads aired.
As Politico detailed:
And the GOP has indeed enjoyed an edge on TV in the last few weeks in Pennsylvania. An analysis of data from AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm, shows that the combined TV ad spending by Oz and GOP outside groups began overtaking the combined totals of Fetterman and Democratic allies on the week of Aug. 23. Republicans are on pace to outspend Democrats $24 million to $17 million between then and the first full week of October.
The GOP is also thumping Democrats in that period in terms of total ads aired, as well as the dollar amount spent on advertising, according to AdImpact.
On the week of Oct. 4, however, Democrats have booked more on TV ads than Republicans — though new ad placements between now and then could change that.
McPhillips’s memo also warned that a recent internal poll showed Fetterman is polling “neck and neck with Oz.”
The internal poll aligns with a recent Trafalgar Group poll that found Oz trailing Fetterman by less than two points.
Other Pennsylvania Democrats are also worried by the massive spending by Oz and pro-Oz super PACs, with one Democrat media consultant calling Washington Democrat groups “dumber than a box of rocks.”
Pennsylvania Democrat media consultant Doc Sweitzer told Politico:
Democrats should be spending on this because they’re going to look like complete fools if they blow this race, because Fetterman’s done everything right and put it into play. And if they’re holding back on it because they’re spending money elsewhere or getting cocky or whatever, shame on them. So many of these Washington groups are dumber than a box of rocks.
McPhillips’s memo also warned that “[f]alse attacks on John’s record threaten to drown out our message.”
McPhillips could be referring to Oz’s recent attack ads that criticize Fetterman for claiming that law-abiding Pennsylvanians would be no “less safe” if one-third of the state’s prison population were released onto the streets.
Fetterman, who has struggled with speech issues since having a stroke in May, agreed to debate Oz next month on October 25, two weeks from the midterm elections and more than one month after Pennsylvanias begin early voting.