Ed Davis Gears Up Early With TV Spots

Times Political Writer

What is Ed Davis up to?

The Republican U.S. Senate hopeful provided a preview Monday of two 30-second TV commercials that he plans to start running this month. That would put Davis on the air seven months before the Republican primary and a year before the 1986 general election.

Not only are the ads going on the air early, they will be given only limited exposure.

One ad attacks Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston for refusing to take a stand on whether California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, herself involved in an early campaign, should be confirmed by the voters next November. The other ad seeks to capitalize on the tough-guy image Davis gained as Los Angeles police chief in the 1970s. It refers to Cranston’s habit of running for exercise and says Davis’ favorite sport is boxing.

“We’ll hold a decathlon,” Davis said. “First we’ll box and then we’ll see how far he (Cranston) can run.”


Made for $2,500

The two simply done ads were produced for only $2,500, Davis campaign manager Martha Zilm said.

Davis said he has budgeted only $10,000 to buy air time. In Los Angeles, where he plans to start the ads, $10,000 does not buy much TV time. He hopes to run the ads on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show and NBC’s “Today” show, he said. A 30-second spot on those shows costs from $800 to $1,000.

“Ed is just trying to get you guys in the press to come see the ads and then write stories about them,” Clinton Reilly, the San Francisco political consultant, said. “It’s free media about his paid media.”

Republican Sen. Pete Wilson said, “He (Davis) is trying to bump the Field Poll.”

Wilson was referring to the statewide California Poll, conducted by Mervin Field of San Francisco. When he won the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 1982, Wilson did a TV blitz in an attempt to affect the California Poll.

Some strategists insist that going on the air just before Field does a poll can help a candidate pick up a couple of percentage points in the survey. Davis, a state senator from Valencia, has led the early polls in the Republican Senate race, but most observers consider the crowded race up for grabs at this point.

A Field spokesman acknowledged Monday that the polling organization will be doing a U.S. Senate survey later this month.


Orange County political consultant Harvey Englander also likes the California Poll theory about Davis’ intentions, but he offered another motive as well.

“Television ads are a very tangible part of fund raising,” Englander said. “You can show them to contributors and say, ‘Your $1,000 check will enable me to run this spot on ‘Good Morning America’ three times a week. I need your help to keep it on the air.’ ”

Davis said in an interview, “It (running the TV ads now) probably does both. In a political campaign, everything is designed to lead to the ‘big mo’--the big momentum. No matter how well you’re doing, you are always trying to increase your momentum.”