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Caprio Nixes Ballyhooed Ad Campaign

UPDATE II: O'Brien says she "misspoke" before when she suggested Caprio's suspended advertising campaign will be back up shortly after the holidays. She now says it will be up up sometime "in the first quarter" of the new year. This, it seems, is a real pullback.

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UPDATE: Margie O'Brien, spokeswoman for the Caprio campaign, now says the advertising blitz is being suspended for a few weeks and will start up again after the new year. She says the campaign pulled down the bulk of its advertising blitz, for now, because voters aren't as engaged in campaigns over the holidays.  

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As I'll report in this week's Phoenix (the full piece should appear on our web site this afternoon), gubernatorial candidate Frank T. Caprio has quietly pulled down his much-ballyhooed $100,000-per-month advertising campaign.

Caprio, the state treasurer, announced the media barrage in early November, when he formally announced his bid for governor. The move raised eyebrows in political circles. It came, after all, some eight or nine months earlier than ad campaigns normally launch.

The Caprio camp insisted that voters were paying attention to the race. And a spokeswoman said the ads, which centered on the economy, would help the candidate stake out what was sure to be the central issue in the contest.

But political observers suggested that the real audience was a few thousand people really paying attention at this stage - journalists, donors and opponents. Perhaps the aim, they said, was to nudge Attorney General Patrick Lynch, Caprio's rival for the Democratic nomination, out of the race. Or to make a strong show to donors and keep them away from other candidates.

Whatever the matrix, the Caprio camp has decided the ads were not paying off. Margie O'Brien, a Caprio spokeswoman, has not yet provided a rationale for the move.

Pulling the plug may turn out to be a wise decision, in the long run, from a campaign that has shown a deft touch to date. But for now, the aborted ad push seems to amount to the first real misstep for a well-managed effort.

Mike Mikus, campaign manager for Lynch, is basking in the news. "It looks like he broke his first campaign promise," Mikus said, of Caprio.

And the Lynch campaign, for its part, says the fourth quarter is shaping up to be Lynch's best fundraising quarter of the year. Good news for a candidate who has trailed Caprio badly in the money department.

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