WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Republican political action committee launched the first negative ads of the Virginia gubernatorial race on Wednesday, accusing Democrat Creigh Deeds of supporting wasteful government spending.
The ads - one on TV and one on the radio - come one day after the Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell, unveiled an upbeat ad promising to make Virginia "the energy capital of the East Coast."
Wednesday's ad, titled "Big Spender," was created by a group called Virginia Common Sense PAC, an offshoot of the Republican Governors Association. The 30-second ad will air statewide, except in the costly northern Virginia media market.
The ad shows video of Deeds on the campaign trail in April, before his victory in the Democratic primary, telling voters that in early 2008 he offered $1 billion in state budget amendments - the highest amount sought by any state senator.
(Story updated with reaction after the jump)
"Big spender Creigh Deeds," a female narrator says. "Know him by his words. Know him by his deeds."
The budget amendment factoid came from the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star - but the ad does not mention the fact that $870 million of Deeds' spending proposals, to be distributed over two years, were aimed at raising teacher salaries to the national average.
The ad was released along with a minute-long radio ad, also running statewide, that likens Deeds to "Washington politicians spending billions every week." The McDonnell campaign is making a major effort to tie Deeds to President Obama and the administration's economic agenda, an attempt to portray the Democratic candidate as too liberal for Virginia voters.
"Creigh Deeds is proud of his spending, and he brags about it in speeches," says the narrator in the radio ad.
The Deeds campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ad.
UPDATE: The Deeds team responded by linking McDonnell to Obama's predecessor. "It's no surprise that Bob McDonnell would attack Creigh Deeds for trying to raise teacher salaries, since McDonnell repeatedly voted against Virginia's public schools," said Deeds campaign spokesman Jared Leopold. "This ad is just another attempt to deflect attention from Bob McDonnell's support for George W. Bush's economic policies."
UPDATE 2: Virginia Republicans point out that Common Sense Virginia - an arm of the Democratic Governors Assocation - went negative early, spending more than $3 million on TV ads pummeling McDonnell this spring. That was before the general election, when three Democratic candidates were mired in a tough primary battle. McDonnell, however, was already the GOP nominee at that point.