Back in May, the US Chamber of Commerce paid to run a TV ad promoting Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty. "This lawman has a plan," the spot said of Doherty, former superintendent of the state police, trumpeting his call for lower taxes and infrastructure improvements.
But until now, at least, that spot appears an outlier. There has been no barrage of outside spending, as some observers expected, with Cicilline so weak for so long in the polls.
I checked in with both the Cicilline and Doherty campaigns this morning. They're constantly checking the television stations' logs to see who is buying what. And as of this morning, there are no outside buys on the books.
Doherty, as the GOP challenger in a Democratic district, has more to gain from outside spending. And the lack of outside cash could be interpreted as a sign that the National Republican Congressional Committee and independent conservative groups don't see a great opportunity to tip the election here.
But there's still time. If new polling data suggest that Doherty's recently launched attacks on Cicilline's record as Providence mayor are moving voters, outside money could be persuaded to jump into the race. And the shadow of Americans for Common Sense Solutions, an independent group that spent heavily to attack Cicilline in the 2010 race, hangs over the campaign.
Still, Ian Prior, Doherty's campaign manager, sees a mixed blessing in any independent expenditures. "I think with outside money, it's always a concern when you can't control the message."