Independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook will start running television ads this weekend, a full month before he originally planned such campaigning.
Cook has contracted to buy $45,500 of time in September from the three local TV stations. (Cook and his wife, Camille, helped produce the spots, saving a 15 percent production fee, he said.)In October, Cook said he'll buy more TV time, perhaps $100,000 to $150,000. "TV is a major part of our budget," Cook said. "While the other guys (GOP Gov. Norm Bangerter and Democrat Ted Wilson) may spend half or less of their money on TV, this is two-thirds of my budget."
Bangerter and Wilson have already run television advertisements and plan more in September. Cook has run only radio advertisements up until now.
Cook, who was a Republican before announcing his independent candidacy earlier this year, trails Bangerter and Wilson in the polls. Cook believes he'll pull an upset victory in November, and that TV ads will play a major part in his gains. The latest Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the Deseret News and KSL-TV show that 50 percent of those questioned said they favor Wilson, 31 percent want Bangerter, 12 percent want Cook, 1 percent mentioned someone else and 7 percent didn't know.
Cook said he'll have six 30-second spots, each with a 10-second outtake that will run separately. "The 30-second spots won't run in prime time. We can't afford that. The 10-second spots will go prime time where we can," he said.
That's pretty thin, Cook admits, compared to what Bangerter and Wilson will be doing.
The spot that will be aired this Sunday introduces Cook as a Harvard-educated Utahn, successful businessman and family man. It says Cook had the courage to stand up for what he believes and support tax limitation, while Bangerter and Wilson "sided with the other bureaucrats" in opposing the measures.
"Merrill Cook can make the tax cuts work," the announcer says. "Vote for Merrill Cook, an independent for everyone's Utah."
Said Cook about the ad: "We wanted to introduce me to the public. But also, we want to focus right in on the main difference between me and the others - our stands on the tax limitation measures." Both Wilson and Bangerter oppose the three tax limitation initiatives that will be on the November ballot.
Cook said his other five TV ads - not yet produced - will be: (1) Cook talking about why the tax cuts will work; (2) Cook in a classroom talking about how money must be spent there, not on educational administration; (3) Cook talking about job creation, economic development and Utah's future; (4) an endorsement ad by former Ronald Reagan economic advisor Arthur Laffer saying Cook has the right economic answers; and (5) a final ad filmed at the Utah Capitol "that will be a surprise to my opponents."
His advertisements won't be flashy, but simple. "We don't have the production money to pay for me standing in airplanes or gazing out windows," Cook said, taking a small swipe at some of Wilson's and Bangerter's ads.
Cook, a millionaire, said he still plans to spend about $200,000 of his own money on his race and raise about $100,000 from others. "If we raise more than $100,000, then maybe we'll put a little more into TV time. But we won't spend more than $190,000 on TV, and that is less than Bangerter and Wilson have spent already."