NEW YORK — You've seen him on C-SPAN. Now catch him during "Days of Our Lives."
Dan Goldman, the Levi Strauss & Co. heir who gained national television exposure as counsel to House Democrats during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump, is raking in campaign cash and pumping an unusual amount into TV advertising in the race for New York’s open 10th Congressional District.
Goldman, a former federal prosecutor and one of several frontrunners in the race, has dropped $2.8 million on broadcast and cable spots since announcing his run June 1, according to data from AdImpact released Tuesday. That includes hits during the nightly news, late-night talk shows and daytime soaps, Federal Communications Commission records show.
He's spent more than three times rival candidate Rep. Mondaire Jones, the only other competitor on the airwaves, and far beyond typical House primaries in New York City. The outsize spending on a tool more often employed by city and statewide candidates shows just how much money has flowed into Goldman's war chest — in part from his own pocket.
“In a congressional race where you are expecting turnout to be low, there are much more efficient ways to spend your money than doing a large broadcast buy in the last couple of weeks,” said political consultant Basil Smikle Jr., who is not working for anyone in the race.
Campaigns often rely on direct mail, text messaging, phone calls and door-knocking to reach a specific group of the city's electorate. And while television spending is an effective way to tell a story to potential supporters, Smikle said, it is a tool both pricey and blunt.
The city’s media market is the most expensive in the country. And local broadcast stations beam messages to televisions across not only the five boroughs but also the greater metro area. While such breadth is essential for mayoral or gubernatorial candidates, congressional seats cover only a small area of the city geographically — making these types of media purchases uncommon in House contests.
“You’re wasting your spending on 90 percent of the people who see your ad,” said Matthew Rey of Red Horse Strategies, who is unaffiliated in the race. “So is it a powerful way to persuasively and effectively reach that other 10 percent? Yes. But dollar-for-dollar, it’s a luxury.”
Goldman can afford it.
The Tribeca resident reported the largest haul from the district last month, raising more than $1.2 million in the second quarter. Goldman netted the most money from inside the district of any of the 13 candidates. But like everyone competing for the open seat, the majority of his cash came from outside the district, which covers lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
In particular, Goldman was able to tap into a network of family and friends connected to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune — to which he is an heir — to raise more than $200,000. And over the weekend, his campaign filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission showing that Goldman gave his campaign $1 million. Should he win, Goldman would be one of the richest members of Congress.
The former prosecutor’s camp said that it is not spending money on television at the expense of other forms of engagement.
“This is an August 23 primary. We know it’s going to be low turnout, and we are strategically allocating our resources across a robust digital, mail, cable, broadcast and field program to turn out Dan’s supports across the district,” spokesperson Simone Kanter said in a statement. "The overwhelming support we've received over the course of this race clearly shows that Dan is the candidate to meet this moment."
In fact, Kanter noted, the campaign has largely maximized what it can do with more targeted outreach, which is why it is going on the air with such a large ad buy.
Since June, Goldman has appeared on a wide variety of shows, according to FCC records. On a multi-day run beginning July 14, for example, the campaign snagged 30-second spots running the gamut of programming on WNBC, including hits on “The Today Show,” long-running soap opera “Days of our Lives,” “NBC Nightly News,” and “The Tonight Show.” Rates ranged from $300 to $3,5000, which translated to a $17,500 payment for five spots during the nightly news, for example.
On cable, Goldman was able to snag a spot on NY1 around 7 p.m. Wednesday — just ahead of the contest’s first televised debate.
Jones has spent around $784,000 on cable and broadcast advertising, according to AdImpact data from earlier this week, but stuck to a narrower scope. Over on WABC, Jones paid for spots during “Good Morning America” and “Eyewitness News.” During a several-day period beginning Aug. 8, a Jones ad also appeared three times during “Jimmy Kimmel Live” at a total cost of $4,800.
While Goldman's spending makes him an outlier in New York congressional contests, it still pales in comparison with the most competitive Democratic primaries in the country. In the bitter Ohio contest where Rep. Shontel Brown won a rematch over challenger Nina Turner, nearly $30 million was spent on the race.
In fact, AdImpact expects the 2022 midterm election cycle to be the most expensive of all time. On Thursday, the firm predicted $9.7 billion would be dropped on races across the country, outpacing the 2020 presidential cycle by hundreds of millions of dollars.