In recent months it is difficult to tune into a news program, listen to radio talk shows or pick up a newspaper without reading about the crucial Latino vote. That is exactly what has many of those who run Connecticut’s Hispanic media outlets perplexed.
Not much of the millions of political advertising dollars being spent in the state in the two high profile media campaigns – the U.S. Senate and 5th District Congressional races – is making its way to Latino media outlets.
Walter Martinez, general manager of WRYM (840 AM in Newington) says, “I think they are not being well informed by their advisers as to the potential we offer them. It would be so logical for them to use Latino media to reach Latino voters.”
To no one’s surprise, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has ads running on almost every Latino media outlet in the state. Her opponent, Democratic candidate Chris Murphy, who is in a tight race with McMahon, has ads running on a number of Spanish language radio stations but none on Spanish language television such as Univision or the Telemundo stations.
According to Federal Election Commission filings, through July 25, the McMahon campaign had spent $2.236 million on advertising. Murphy’s campaign reported spending approximately $844,000 on media buys. The most recent campaign filings through the end of Sept. 30 were not yet available in detail online.
“We can change the vote for them but candidates do not understand that,” said Brenda Mulero, general manager of Telemundo in Hartford, adding, “They just feel confident they will get Latino votes no matter what.”
Hartford’s Univision station has only McMahon ads running. Station manager, Sulma Avenancio has worked in the local general market media for over a decade and says while Univision stations around the country are all receiving a good share of the political ad dollars, in Connecticut there is a different mindset.
She claims, “I find those who place media here in campaigns as well as for other advertisers somehow have been educated to think that outreach to the Hispanic community is done through grassroots events or someone going to neighborhoods with brochures so they can save a few dollars.”
In the 5th District Congressional race, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Esty drew the harshest criticism from the media outlets. As best can be determined, she has no ads on any Latino radio or TV stations. Through Sept. 30, according to FEC reports, Esty has spent $1.3 million on media services.
Roraback was more specific in his filings and has spent $6766 on radio through Sept. 30 and $162,500 on TV advertising. Roraback did debut a Spanish language ad that he narrates on Oct. 12 after the most recent filing deadline.
On Spanish language radio station WPRX (1120 AM in Berlin), McMahon, Murphy and GOP 5th District candidate Andrew Roraback have been filling the airwaves with ads aimed at a segment of Latino voters. The station’s owner is surprised, however, Esty has not advertised on his station which reaches into three of the district’s cities – Waterbury, New Britain and Meriden.
“I think she is taking our vote for granted, either that or she doesn’t care about the Hispanic vote,” said Oscar Nieves.
He says they have reached out to her campaign but he claims, “They (the Esty campaign) told our account executive that if they hadn’t called us yet, forget about it. This tells me she doesn’t care; she thinks she’s going to win our votes.”
Nieves says he and his morning talk show host have been talking on air about what he sees as a snub. “I tell our listeners she is sending a negative message to us. She’s a politician who doesn’t care about us; just think how much she will care if she is elected to office,” he adds.
Jeb Fain, director of communications for the Esty campaign, said, “We are actually focused on television advertising.“
But, added, Esty has had significant outreach to Latino community. “Elizabeth has actively reached out to local Latino political, community, and non-profit organizations – attending events and meeting with group members. She’s also participated in several in-studio interviews on Spanish-language radio stations including WXCT 990 AM WFNW 1380 AM,” he said.
According to the FCC, WXCT broadcasts out of Torrington and WFNW out of Naugatuck.
Fain also said, “The bottom line is that at the end of day that most issues that matter to the Latino community are…