- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) Eastern Shore residents are being bombarded with televised campaign ads meant not for them, but for neighboring Delaware.

While Maryland traditionally votes Democratic, Delaware is a battleground state where presidential candidates jockey for its three electoral votes.

To reach many Delaware voters, campaigns buy up advertising space on Eastern Shore television stations. So Salisbury residents can turn on their televisions to see multimillion dollar campaigns aimed at someone else.

Republican George W. Bush spent $11,975 for ads on Salisbury's two stations in the past week alone, while Democrat Al Gore forked over $37,143 during that same time.

"Here they come," sighs Deborah Weber, a legal secretary walking down Main Street, saying she now tunes the ads out. "They're going to have to get some dance routines or something that catches my eye to get me to watch."

The campaigns argue that Salisbury is perfect for their purposes. Ad rates for the area are much cheaper than in Philadelphia, the only other media center that broadcasts into Delaware. One Salisbury station, ABC affiliate WMDT, charges as little as $25 for a 30-second ad.

The exposure from Salisbury television is hitting well over a third of the 480,000 registered voters in Delaware, which lacks its own local stations. Even a higher proportion are likely to be in the area this time of year, visiting Delaware's southern beaches.

Both political parties have also been spending heavily in Salisbury this summer. Republicans spent $63,225 and the Democrats $92,645 since June.

"It's a question of taking our message to people in key areas," said Bush campaign spokesman Ken Lisaius. "Delaware certainly falls into that extended battleground area."

And while the Eastern Shore is seeing a steady stream of ads, Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore are not running ads currently in the nation's most populous state, California. The Salisbury ads are the only ones being aired in the Mid-Atlantic region that includes Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Because Salisbury is not a major market, ad space can be bought up on a moment's notice. WBOC, the larger of the two Salisbury stations, still had not sold its last two ad spots for last week's "Survivor" finale.

But at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the day before the show aired, the Gore campaign bought up both with a 60-second commercial.

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