LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette on Tuesday canceled TV ads across Michigan in the final week of the race, except in the Detroit market — another sign that his campaign was facing an uphill climb to defeat Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.
The state attorney general nixed all $445,000 worth of broadcast ads in the Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, Traverse City and Marquette markets. A $441,000 buy in metro Detroit, the state’s largest market, was kept intact.
“We don’t comment on ad strategy, but everyone knows this race is closing,” said Schuette spokesman Stu Sandler, noting the comeback victories in Michigan for Donald Trump in 2016 and John Engler in 1990 in their runs for president and governor.
Said Whitmer spokesman Zack Pohl: “Even Bill Schuette is joining Michigan voters in abandoning the Schuette campaign.”
The Michigan Republican Party was still airing ads for Schuette around the state, but his cancellation of ads exacerbated the advantage that Whitmer and aligned groups have had over Schuette and his allies on the airwaves.
A poll released Monday by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed Whitmer — a former legislative leader — leading 50 percent to 38 percent, with 9 percent undecided. The survey of 600 likely voters, which was conducted Thursday through Saturday, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The Glengariff Group poll results were little changed from a poll the media outlets had done about a month before.
Whitmer has raised more money and spent more than Schuette. She spent $4.6 million to his $2.9 million between the August primary and Oct. 20 — about what they collected in that period, though Schuette loaned his campaign $325,000. Whitmer had raised $12 million for the cycle, Schuette more than $8 million. She also had more cash on hand for the closing stretch.
“Polls come and go, but we cannot focus on that. We can’t get complacent. We’ve got serious work to do, and every one of us has a stake in this election. I want people to get out there and vote,” Whitmer said earlier Tuesday, before news of the ad cancellation. She spoke in Lansing while launching a weeklong bus tour that her campaign said would include at least 70 stops between herself and running mate Garlin Gilchrist II.
This version of the story corrects the last paragraph to say that Whitmer’s campaign plans at least 70 stops, not days.
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