September 14, 2018 In The News, Media

SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spending big to help David Shapiro

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is giving Siesta Key attorney David Shapiro’s bid for Congress a big boost by splitting the cost of a new $900,000 television ad buy attacking U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

The DCCC investment is another sign that the District 16 congressional race is among the most competitive in the nation.

“I think it shows that folks are taking this race very seriously,” said Shapiro campaign manager Alex Vuskovic.

The ad debuting Friday continues a familiar line of attack in criticizing Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, for supporting a big tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and for buying an expensive new yacht on the same day he voted for the tax bill.

Democrats and their allies have been hammering Buchanan for the yacht purchase. The new ad also notes that Buchanan received a loan for the yacht from a foreign-owned bank that was lobbying lawmakers on the tax bill. The bank is owned by a Canadian company.

Buchanan has fired back with an ad declaring that Shapiro’s personal investments contradict his policy goals and make him a hypocrite, and another ad that accuses Shapiro of being “Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked puppet” and criticizes him for late tax payments.

“This race offers voters a clear choice between a congressman who reduced taxes on the middle class and liberal David Shapiro who wants to raise taxes even though he was delinquent paying his own,” Buchanan campaign manager Max Goodman said in response to the latest attack. “This is part of a pattern of deceit and hypocrisy where Shapiro says one thing publicly yet privately does another. Such as claiming to be for a clean environment while he financially invests in Halliburton and the world’s top greenhouse gas polluters.”

Buchanan’s ads have put Shapiro on the defensive. After the Pelosi ad came out, Shapiro declared that he would not support her for speaker of the House if Democrats win back the majority.

But the DCCC investment indicates Shapiro could have the resources to keep returning fire as the race enters the final stretch.

“David Shapiro has spent his entire career standing up for everyday working people, against the abuses of insurance companies and big corporations, and Congressman Buchanan is a Washington politician who has used his position in Congress to put boatloads of cash in his pocket while working families pay more in taxes,” said DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter. “The choice facing voters is clear.”

Shapiro’s strong fundraising has attracted the attention of Democratic leaders. He has raised more than $1.3 million for the race, which has helped make it among the most competitive congressional contests in Florida and nationwide.

Buchanan has plenty of advantages as a wealthy, six-term congressman running in a District that Trump carried by 11 percentage points. But Democrats view him as vulnerable on the tax issue and have seized on the yacht purchase to try to paint him as self-serving and out of touch.

The Democrat-aligned group Floridians for a Fair Shake also ran a television ad and put up a billboard highligting the yacht purchase.

“It’s just a really vivid digestible example of the culture of corruptions that we’re seeing in Washington right now,” Vuskovic said. “I think that’s why it’s sticking – it’s something that’s so vivid.”

Getting the DCCC to spend signifiicant money on the race is a big milestone for Shapiro. Party leaders are hesitant to spend money unless there is clear evidence a contest is winnable.

“This support is significant,” said former Democratic state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, a New College of Florida political science professor who ran against Buchanan in 2012. “It means that there is a real race here.”