Dems to launch energy ads in California |

Dems to launch energy ads in California


WASHINGTON (AP) – House Democrats intend to begin airing television advertising in California on Monday attacking President Bush and Republican lawmakers for refusing to support a temporary cap on the price of electric power, party officials said Saturday.

The first ad will be aimed at GOP Rep. Stephen Horn and appear on cable television in the Los Angeles area less than a week after Bush unveiled his national energy plan. said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The commercial warns of a deepening energy crisis ”with summer blackouts predicted and rate hikes of up to 80 percent.”

”President Bush has offered no relief to hard-pressed rate-payers,” it says, ”…and our Rep. Stephen Horn has joined with Bush in opposing a temporary cap on electricity prices.”

Democrats declined to say how much money they would put behind the commercial in a city where advertising costs are among the highest in the nation. It is unusual for a campaign committee such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to air political advertising more than 18 months in advance of elections.

At the same time, Democrats are moving quickly to exploit consumer anger in California, where energy prices have risen sharply and where more blackouts are threatened for later in the summer.

Horn narrowly won election to his fifth term last November, prevailing by 1,760 votes and gaining less than 50 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate field.

Horn could not be reached for comment Saturday. Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, accused Democrats of ”trying to politicize an issue that Gray Davis is largely responsible for. Playing politics with this issue will backfire on them.”

Davis, the California governor who has been dealing for months with his state’s energy woes, accused the administration this week of ”turning a blind eye to the bleeding and hemorrhaging that exists in this state.”

The administration’s energy program includes dozens of recommendations designed to increase the supply of energy and lower the cost in the future, as well as some conservation measures. But the president rejected calls from Davis and other Democrats for shorter-term relief in the form of caps on price increases.

The Democratic advertising comes at a time when some Republicans have privately expressed concern about the political fallout from energy problems. Some GOP lawmakers spoke out on the issue in closed-door meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney in the past week.

Democrats said they are prepared to air ads aimed at other Western state lawmakers whom they view as particularly vulnerable, and possibly at Midwesterners if gasoline prices rise sharply.

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