Beltway observers may not know who Billy Harper is yet, but chances are that any given Kentucky voter has seen one of his ads. As part of a campaign exceeding $2 million, the businessman and drag racer has blanketed the Bluegrass State with TV and radio spots explaining why he deserves to win the Republican nomination for governor.
His campaign launched its first TV ad in October and has since produced five more TV spots and a radio ad. The first wave of ads consisted mainly of biographical spots that sought to define the candidate.
One ad, titled "First," highlights his experience as a semi-pro drag-car racer. "First off the starting line, first to the finish," Harper crows from the cockpit of his Dodge Viper. "That's my car and that's what I want for Kentucky."
Racing is a theme in Harper's campaign, and the war room of his campaign headquarters -- "the Pit" -- is adorned with inspirational racing quotes. Another theme that Harper continually returns to is creating jobs through his family business and improving public schools.
"Report" explains how Harper "brought together educators and business leaders" to formulate 52 ideas for improving public schools, while "Business Leadership" touches on his stewardship of the family business and suggests he'll bring CEO experience to the governor's office.
The ads never directly mention the current governor, Republican Ernie Fletcher, but they do take shots at "Frankfort politicians." Two spots released last month take on the more contentious issues of taxes and pork-barrel spending. In the radio ad, an announcer accuses state legislators of spending tax dollars on "a golf course, luxury hotel, theater groups [and] political pork."
Campaign manager Stan Pulliam said the campaign will draw distinctions between Harper and his two primary opponents, Fletcher and former Rep. Anne Northup. One spot charges that "in the Republican primary race for governor, [there are] two politicians and a businessman named Billy Harper."
Pulliam also said that their campaign does not plan to launch attacks on Fletcher and Northup, but will counter-attack if necessary. He declined to announce how much Harper is willing to spend from his own pocket, but judging by the size of the current ad campaign, it's likely that Kentucky voters haven't seen the last of Harper's ads.
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