Fred Upton gets another reminder how hot his Chair is


The sleepy congressional district in the southwestern corner of Michigan where Fred Upton (R-MI) makes his home has been off the national radar for years – testament to Upton’s bullet-proof re-election prowess. However, now that he is chairing a key congressional committee, national interests have suddenly discovered his home – including an environmental advocacy running radio ads there.

Upton, of course, is now chair of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The ads are coming from an environmental advocacy group called the League of Conservation Voters. They aren’t limited to Upton, either. Three other members of Congress are on the hit list, including two Republicans and one Democrat.

Dean Heller (R-NV), Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and Jason Altmire (D-PA) are also at the wrong end of what is to be a $250K radio campaign. The lion’s share of that is directed at Upton – he’ll bear the brunt of 32% of the buy, absorbing $80K worth of advertising.

At issue is legislation sponsored by Upton that seeks to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing Clear Air statutes. The others are along for the ride because of their support for Upton’s measure.
“It is beyond reprehensible that Chairman Upton is leading an all out attack on the EPA’s vital clean air safeguards and that lawmakers like Representatives Altmire, Heller and Rehberg are more than willing to follow his lead,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski. “The EPA has a responsibility under the law to set air pollution limits that protect the public’s health and hold polluters accountable, and it is simply wrong for these politicians to block scientists at the EPA from doing their job in order to protect their campaign contributions from corporate polluters.”

LCV stated, “The radio ads contrast the healthy air Americans want to breathe and the polluted stuff that these Congressmen are voting for. The ads will be running this week in 8 media markets. LCV is joined by Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Nevada Conservation League and Montana Conservation Voters in this effort.”

RBR-TVBR observation: There’s more than one way to become a battleground. Usually, a battleground is the result of a hotly contested race where neither party holds the upper hand among the population by a significant margin. Upton’s district is a different phenomenon – it’s an ideology/issues battleground.

Upton’s position of prominence in the Republican legislative hierarchy should greatly increase his fund-raising capacity. His emergence as a target for national advocacy organizations increases the negative advertising in his district. Even though his constituents likely will not be swayed by these ads, Upton may well decide to spend some of his cash just so the ads do not go unanswered.

Broadcasters can only benefit from this sort of thing – and the fact that it’s starting up right from the onset of Upton’s chairmanship indicates it may well be a steady source of advertising income throughout his tenure.