The Democrat said he overspent during the primary, but he had his reasons.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
Confident of victory in the Nov. 7 race for the 6th Congressional District seat, Democrat Charlie Wilson canceled television commercial time, isn't mailing fliers to voters and is contributing some of his campaign funds to other candidates.
"I'd like to go to Congress with a nest egg," Wilson, of St. Clairsville, a one-term state senator and former four-term Ohio House member, told The Vindicator on Tuesday.
Before the May primary, the National Republican Congressional Committee had considered this 12-county district, which includes Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County, to be its No. 1 pickup seat in the U.S. House.
Race takes a turn
But after Wilson won the Democratic primary in May as a write-in candidate even though the NRCC spent about 600,000 on television commercials in an attempt to discredit him, the race took a different turn. Just recently, the NRCC canceled about 400,000 worth of TV commercials for Chuck Blasdel, of East Liverpool, a three-term state House member.
"We reduced our [TV commercial] buys by about 40 percent after the NRCC canceled," Wilson said. "We felt it was more productive to cut back our buys."
Wilson contributed 552,709 of his own money to his write-in effort in the primary with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spending 600,000 to help him win. Wilson's campaign gave 7,100 to him during the last days of September as a partial loan repayment. Wilson said the campaign gave him about 5,000 this month for the same purpose.
Wilson said the primary spending was "overkill, but we couldn't chance" losing.
Polls show Wilson with a double-digit lead over Blasdel for the Nov. 7 election.
"We don't need overkill this time because in the primary, things were uncertain," Wilson said.
Wilson began airing television commercials two weeks ago.
Blasdel's first television commercials were aired Tuesday. Blasdel understands the NRCC had to redirect money from his campaign to congressional districts currently controlled by Republicans that could end up in Democratic hands, said Ryan Stenger, Blasdel's campaign manager.
Stenger is pleased Wilson is confident and essentially overlooking Blasdel.
"Arrogance breeds complacency," Stenger said. "Charlie hasn't done a large amount of work to date so when he says he's cutting back, that just means he'll do even less than now. He doesn't have a solid worth ethic and has felt his checkbook would get him through the day."
As of the end of this month, Wilson's campaign had 461,911 on hand compared to 278,528 for Blasdel's campaign.
"I'm spreading some money around to other candidates on the ballot," Wilson said.