In what’s expected to be a hotly contested race, Democrats running for a congressional seat representing Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County started competing for voters attention this week with the race’s first television ads.
The ads serve as an introduction for voters who might not know businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton and state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.
Posing in a white lab coat, Naughton explains in her ad that she was inspired to seek office by her experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
“For years, I was a laboratory chemist, developing drugs to fight deadly disease,” said Naughton in the ad. She worked at the former Wyeth Laboratories after college, but left to support her family’s struggling publishing company.
Her first ad, appearing on area cable and Philly broadcast channels, zeroes in on her science, not business, bona fides. “As a scientist, I know there’s more that Washington can do to help families.”
Santarsiero’s ad shows him walking his dog and hanging out with his family. He attributes his reasons for seeking office to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
“I saw them fall from my office window,” he said in the ad, cutting to footage of the Twin Towers billowing smoke. “I knew then that I had a responsibility. I left my law firm and came back home to teach.”
Santarsiero switched from law to teaching high school social studies in Bensalem, before running for positions in local and, eventually, state government.
Ads usually strive to make a candidate stand out from the pack, but Naughton and Santarsiero both hammered home their commitment to funding Planned Parenthood in their first public messages. Naughton’s ad also highlighted her environmental interests, while Santarsiero pointed out his record on pushing expanded background checks for gun sales.
Six weeks before the April 26 Pennsylvania primary, competition for one of the few truly open seats in Congress this cycle is heating up, with accusations of foul play and calls for candidates to sign a “civility pledge.”
In 2014, four-term Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick indicated he would not seek re-election, clearing the way for a swing district. None of the three Republican candidates — former Bucks County Commissioner Andy Warren, psychoneurologist Marc Duome and FBI agent and brother to Mike, Brian Fitzpatrick — have released television ads.