Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor and former Marine, is pouring $381,000 into a new television ad, according to his campaign — his second of the race and only the latest in what has become an airwaves arms race in the Fourth Congressional District.
The ad buy appears to be the largest, to date, for any of those launched by candidates in the nine-Democrat primary, and is notable both for its size and breadth.
Auchincloss’s campaign says the money will put a 30-second spot on Boston cable and broadcast outlets starting Wednesday through Aug. 9, a 12-day time window during which other candidates, too, are gobbling up television time, hoping to grab attention in the under-the-radar race.
Becky Walker Grossman, also a Newton city councilor; Ihssane Leckey, a former Wall Street regulator; and Alan Khazei, cofounder of City Year, have collectively poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into their own television ads in recent weeks.
The early rush to television, coming more than a month before the Sept. 1 primary, speaks to the new reality most candidates find themselves in. In-person campaigning has all but stopped amid the pandemic, and in the Fourth District race, forums and debates have lived almost entirely online, depressing their reach.
By investing in television time, including at a time when many people remain tethered to their homes, the campaigns hope they can begin to make inroads in what is largely considered a wide-open contest.
Nine Democrats and two Republicans are vying for the seat being vacated by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, who opted to challenge Senator Edward J. Markey in the Democratic primary for US Senate.
Auchincloss’s new TV spot, similar to his first, emphasizes his background in the Marines while framing him as a check on President Trump, who’s running for reelection in November and, according to the ad, is “fanning the flames” on gun sales and mass shootings.
It also comes amid an intensifying time in the race. Women Vote! — a super PAC associated with EMILY’S List, the powerful political group that supports women running for office who back abortion rights — reported spending $85,664 on digital ads attacking both Auchincloss and Khazei, criticizing them as candidates who “don’t stand up for women’s reproductive freedom.” On Monday, it reported spending another $34,000 on mailers targeting both candidates.
On its website, the group points to Auchincloss’s time working for the state Republican Party and Governor Charlie Baker’s 2014 campaign. (Baker supports abortion rights, but Women Vote! cites the state party’s 2014 platform, which said “every instance of abortion is tragic.”)
For Khazei, it cites his comments in an 11-year-old Politico article, in which Khazei, then a Senate candidate, said he would have backed a bill creating what would become the Affordable Care Act, though he disagreed with an amendment at the time that would have restricted the sale of insurance policies covering abortion.
Both Auchincloss and Khazei have dismissed the criticisms as unwarranted, with Khazei calling it a “completely false attack ad.”