WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds is looking to project an air of momentum in the closing days of the Democratic primary race by launching a new TV ad in the costly northern Virginia media market.
When the ad starts running Wednesday night, Deeds and fellow Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe will both be on the air in every corner of the commonwealth with just five days left until next Tuesday's Democratic primary. The third candidate in the race, former House delegate Brian Moran, has spent considerably less on television ads - but he maintains a strong base of support in the Washington suburbs where most of the state's Democratic voters reside.
The 30-second ad asks the question: "On June 9, which Democrat has the most experience to carry on the policies of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine?" The spot then touts Deeds' recent - and somewhat surprising - endorsement by the Washington Post. "The Washington Post says it's Creigh Deeds," a narrator says. "Deeds 'would make transportation his first priority.'"
The ad also points out that Deeds is pro-choice, a message that might help allay fears among northern Virginia liberals that the state senator from rural Bath County is too conservative to lead the party.
The Deeds campaign maintains that a stronger-than-expected showing in northern Virginia combined with good turnout downstate and in rural areas will push their candidate over the top in next week's vote. "If we get over 20 percent of the vote in northern Virginia, I find it very hard to believe we don't win the nomination," campaign manager Joe Abbey told CNN.
The Washington area media market can be prohibitively expensive for political candidates - especially ones who lack the deep pockets of McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman. McAuliffe raised nearly $7 million through last week, while Moran raised $4.8 million and Deeds $3.8 million. Abbey claimed that the campaign was able to afford the ad buy in part because excited campaign supporters contributed over $20,000 just yesterday.
The winner of next week's primary contest will move on to face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election, and both national parties are likely to devote considerable resources to helping their candidate win the symbolic off-year election.