After blanketing Florida for months with TV commercials, gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene is taking down his ads in the final days before Florida’s primary election.
Greene’s campaign had previously denied speculation that the South Florida billionaire was going dark on television, telling the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that ads were running through Monday. But a day later, campaign spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren confirmed that Greene had stopped running commercials Thursday — although she insisted that Greene was not giving up on the Democratic nomination.
“We’ve gotten our message out big with TV ad buys at a time when audiences were paying attention — and we’ve stayed in touch with voters and supporters. The last week of the campaign, the airwaves are flooded with political ads and no one is paying active attention,” VanSusteren said. “Jeff Greene has shifted his focus to the ground game and get-out-the-vote efforts in communities across Florida.”
According to Greene’s campaign, his disappearance from the airwaves was preceded by a change in production company (and ad buyer) which resulted in the refunding of previous purchases. Greene had intended to re-up, according to his campaign, but had a change of heart after realizing how television has become saturated with political ads.
Instead, VanSusteren said, Greene is focusing the final week on phone-bank staff, canvassers and volunteers who are courting voters face to face. He’s doing so despite the fact that polls show him in the middle of the pack in a five-person field, and Andrew Gillum and Philip Levine already have substantial field operations.
“Others may choose to go big on already over-saturated airwaves, but you don’t become a billionaire by being conventional,” VanSusteren said. “Jeff Greene is still campaigning to win and focusing on getting his voters to the polls.”
Greene’s spots stopped running Thursday, according to his campaign, but he’d previously pulled his commercials attacking Gwen Graham. Through this week, Greene had loaned his campaign more than $29 million, much of it spent on television.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.