Aug 17, 2023 - Politics

The 2023 General Assembly election ad wars begin

Illustration of two opposing megaphones in red and blue with US flags ascending from the sound pieces

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Swing district voters are about to start hearing a lot about inflation and abortion.

What's happening: Republicans and Democrats fighting for control of the General Assembly are ramping up their ad buys as the beginning of early voting nears.

Driving the news: House Democrats announced a "six-figure" campaign focused on abortion Wednesday that they said they plan to run around the state.

  • The ad centers around a GOP candidate from northern Virginia, who was recorded earlier this year telling voters he'd support a "100% ban" on the procedure.

What they're saying: "It's happening all around us — abortion bans, women being jailed, and preventable medical emergencies," House Minority Leader Don Scott said in a statement. "And the Virginia GOP wants to take us backwards and make us the next Florida or Mississippi."

The other side: The candidate featured in the recording, John Stirrup who is running in Prince William County, told the Washington Post that while he opposes abortion on religious grounds, in Richmond he'd back a 15-week ban sought by Gov. Youngkin.

  • Youngkin's PAC blasted the ad's suggestion that Republicans would seek a "total abortion ban" as "an outright lie."

🐘 Republican rolled out their own tranche of attack ads last month, which have so far sought to paint Democratic candidates as extremists who support high taxes, are soft on crime and contribute to inflation.

Zoom in: Inflation will remain a focus in coming ads, said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Speaker Todd Gilbert.

  • The issue has dogged President Biden and was listed as a top concern for voters in a recent VCU poll, surpassing women's reproductive rights and gun control.

What we're watching: Inflation appears to have enough resonance that at least one swing district Democrat is zeroing in on the issue, too.

  • In an ad released earlier this week, Monty Mason, a longtime Democratic state senator from Williamsburg, touted his support for tax cuts that had largely been championed by Republicans.
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