Progressive Groups, Supporters, Go After Baucus In New Ad Buy

Progressive groups are launching a new round of advertising against Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, (D-Mont.), in an effort to persuade him to support a public option.

The Montana Democrat was the (unfortunate) winner of a contest sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, in which the groups allowed members to choose which senator to target in an ad campaign. Baucus has, at times, indicated he supports a government run plan but it is not certain if the proposal will make it into the final version of his committee's bill.

For this, 15,000 progressive voters determined that he should get an additional bit of political pressure. The ads being run against the senator, which will air in three media markets in Montana -- Billings, Butte-Bozeman, and Helena - are duplicates of an old PCCC spot. Only it is customized for Baucus, pointing to the $3.9 million he has taken from "health and insurance interests."

According to PCCC co-founder Adam Green, the ad will be broadcast for the first week of airing on broadcast TV during news shows, with an eye towards raising money for a second week after that.

The choosing of Baucus as the target of the spot is an interesting reflection of where the progressive sentiment lies in regards to the current debate over health care reform. There were, arguably, other senators whose skepticism of a public plan makes them more deserved targets, notably Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

But Baucus plays a unique role in crafting health care legislation. And while he has a reputation of being turned off -- as opposed to influenced -- by political attacks, roughly 23 percent of the nearly 64,000 progressive voters determined over a ten-day period that ads should be run in his home state.

Perhaps an equally noteworthy aspect of the voting: Sen. John Kerry, (D-Mass.), was second in the running with more than 13,000 voters (20 percent) calling for ads to be run against him in Massachusetts.

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