WASHINGTON – Democrats will spend $400,000 on radio ads that begin airing Monday in seven congressional districts, calling attention to GOP opposition to a higher minimum wage.
The ads are part of Democrats' strategy to make that issue a centerpiece of this year's congressional campaigns. Democrats have focused on areas hard hit economically, contrasting nine years of inaction on the minimum wage with $31,000 in congressional pay raises over the same period.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the ads would run in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Mexico and Virginia, in the districts of vulnerable Republican incumbents.
A version of the ad, targeting Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., was on display on the committee's Web site. Against a background of game show music, an announcer exclaims: "Let's play, 'Who deserves a pay raise!"'
The Hostettler ad replaced a campaign video that depicted images of war and of flag-draped coffins. Republicans had objected to that video as an insult to soldiers' families and at least two House Democrats urged the committee to take down the ad.
The radio ads will also play in the districts of GOP Reps. Mike Sodrel of Indiana, Geoff Davis of Kentucky, Charles Taylor of North Carolina, Deborah Pryce of Ohio, Heather Wilson of New Mexico, and Thelma Drake of Virginia.
DCCC spokesman Bill Burton said some of the ads will concentrate on veterans' benefits or immigration, but most will address the issue of minimum wage.
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Carl Forti, said Saturday, "This is just another example of hypocrisy on the part of the Democrats. If they are so outraged, why do they accept the automatic COLA?" — the cost-of-living raise.
The ads follow a recent nonbinding vote in the House to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from the current $5.15. The vote urged lawmakers to include a minimum wage boost in a pending job training bill. Pryce and Davis were among 64 Republicans who voted with Democrats.
In the Senate, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has promised to block a pending congressional pay raise until Congress increases the minimum wage. Republican leaders and business groups say a minimum wage increase would reduce the number of entry-level jobs, hurting young and low-skilled workers.