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Spence up with first post-primary ad, which seeks to link Nixon to Obama

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 18, 2012 - After weeks off the airwaves, Republican candidate for governor Dave Spence is launching a new TV ad campaign today aimed directly at his Democratic rival, Gov. Jay Nixon.

The ad is Spence’s first since winning the Aug. 7 primary. His aim is to link Nixon -- who has led Spence in every poll -- with President Barack Obama, who has been trailing GOP rival Mitt Romney in Missouri, according to most polls.

The new Spence ad begins by showing Nixon at the 2008 presidential convention, in which then-candidate Nixon represented the Missouri delegation during the presidential nomination process. Now-Gov. Nixon did not do so in Charlotte, leaving that task to state Democratic Party chairman Mike Sanders.

The ad also tries to tie Nixon to the federal stimulus spending in the state; Missouri got more than $4 billion, which the Republican-controlled General Assembly generally allocated over two years to help balance the state budget.

Ironically, Spence also had been on the board of a bank -- Reliance Bancshares -- which accepted federal bailout money, a different federal aid program, and has yet to pay any of it back. Spence wasn't on the board when it accepted the money, but was a member when it opted against starting repayment.

(Start of update) Nixon's campaign took note of such matters in its reply. “When you consider that it was Dave Spence who defended the stimulus plan by saying it ‘saved our bacon,’ it’s clear this ad is just the latest example of Spence’s dishonest and desperate campaign,” said Oren Shur, Nixon’s campaign manager. 

“After all, this is the same candidate who lied about having an economics degree and misled Missourians about his role in not paying back his bank’s bailout. ... If Dave Spence wants to talk about Washington spending, he should start by explaining why his bank took a $40 million bailout from Washington and then refused to repay the taxpayers.”

Nixon's campaign also noted that the state of Missouri announced today that  businesses in the state created 17,900 jobs in August, "which brings the total number of jobs created this year to over 25,000. The state’s unemployment rate (7.2%) has been below the national average for 36 consecutive months." (End of update)

Spence's camp has noted that other state figures show that 11,000 people have dropped out of the workforce in August, some because their unemployment benefits ran out.

Spence is emboldened somewhat by new endorsements from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and most recently, the 6,000-member Missouri Association of Corrections Officers.

Spokesman Jared Craighead notes that officers are state employees and contends that their decision to back Spence, not Nixon, should be seen as a repudiation of the latter’s leadership.

Spence’s new ad is a shift from his earlier TV spots, most of which sought to highlight Spence’s biography. His first negative ad, run in July, also ran into some problems.

This one, his campaign hopes, will hit its mark.

Spence, a wealthy businessman, has loaned or donated more than $4 million to his campaign and appears to be ready to put in some more. Nixon has had a large financial edge, reporting about $6.3 million in the bank as of two weeks ago. Spence reported just under $1.45 million.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.