As the first full week of the General Election race to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bill Frist begins, Democratic nominee Harold Ford Jr. and Republican Bob Corker are wasting no time in trying to get their message to the voters.
The Ford for Senate campaign is unveiling a commerical calling for the increased use of Tennessee soybeans as a fuel source, while the Corker camp says that a "desperate Congressman Ford is trying the airwaves."
The Ford ad, entitled "Right here" and available online at this link, shows Ford walking through a Dyer County soybean field calling for the expanded use of soybeans as fuel source rather than depending on foreign oil.
While the ad does not take any direct swings at Corker, the Ford campaign has already begun trying to paint its newly anointed Republican opponent as a "lapdog for big oil."
Ford campaign officials point to Corker campaign finance chairman Jim Haslam II, who is CEO of Knoxville-based Pilot Oil, and Corker's recent endorsement by the Independent Petroleum Association of America as evidence for their charge.
Meanwhile, the Corker campaign cites polls done recently by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Party, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press as proof that its candidate is more popular among Tennessee voters.
"With his extravagant campaign spending, Congressman Ford ran his campaign into the ground before the general election even began," said Ben Mitchell, Corker's campaign manager. "Now with recent polls showing him trailing Bob Corker by anywhere from 15 percent to 13 percent, he is forced to spending his paltry left over funds on early television in an effort to salvage his campaign."
Mitchell pointed to two items in recent Ford FEC filings to bolster his claims -- an $8,500 expense for livery services in New York and almost $4,000 for "lodging" at a Miami area resort.
Accoridng to the FEC, as of July 17 the Ford campaign had $1.7 million in cash on hand compared to Corker's $1.2 million. These amounts obviously do not reflect monies spent in the waning days of the primary battle.