Lynne Abraham’s Last Best Hope

Slipping in the polls, the candidate airs her first television ad. But is it too late?

Screen grab of Lynne Abraham's new campaign ad.

Screen grab of Lynne Abraham’s new campaign ad.

(Editors note: Join Philadelphia magazine at 6 p.m. tonight for a Q&A with Lynne Abraham at Pipeline Philly. The free event features complimentary food, drinks and tough questions from Citified’s Holly Otterbein.)

Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham is finally airing her own TV ad this week, more than a month after her opponents’ faces have been all over the tubes.

Abraham’s 30-second spot (watch it below) focuses on a topic of grave concern to city residents: education. Surrounded by images of schoolchildren, Abraham says, “There’s over 200,000 students in Philadelphia. Jim Kenney and Tony Williams are fighting over public schools versus charters. I think they’re both wrong. It’s making sure they all get a good education.”

Abraham also says in the ad that it is “wrong” that the city’s school district “gets less school funding than other parts of Pennsylvania,” and that she’ll take Harrisburg to federal court if lawmakers refuse to pony up.

Starting this Tuesday, the ad will air on broadcast and cable TV, according to Abraham’s campaign. Team Abraham also says it will be spending a total of $700,000 to air this and other ads through Election Day.

That’s a significant purchase. But is it enough to make a difference this late in the game?

There are a few reasons that you could argue it is. Abraham didn’t have to spend money on an initial ad introducing herself to voters. That’s because, after serving as the city’s district attorney for 19 years, voters already know her. Instead, as you can see, she was able to skip right into a contrast ad about the issues. Conversely, since City Councilman Jim Kenney and state Sen. Anthony Williams had weak name recognition at the beginning of the mayor’s race, both the candidates’ super PAC supporters initially aired biographical spots.

Given that Williams has recently started attacking Kenney on the campaign trail, Citified predicts that Team Williams or a super PAC backing him will soon air negative ads about him. If that happens, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Kenney or his super PAC allies would start running negative ads about Williams in response. And, if they steered clear of Abraham, that would give her a boost right as her spot began airing.

Abraham’s ad also hones in on education, which is the single most important topic to the city’s residents, according to a recent Pew poll. That’s probably wise. And the photos of students in her spot are visually striking.

But there are a plenty of reasons you could argue that it’s too late for Abraham, too. A super PAC started airing pro-Kenney ads in early March. Shortly thereafter, Williams’ campaign and his super PAC allies began putting out their own respective ads. To make matters worse for Abraham, Kenney’s campaign is also releasing its first ad this week, and it’s not bad. Check it out yourself:

Unsurprisingly, polling indicates that the TV ads are having a major impact on the race: Two surveys recently conducted on behalf of Kenney found that Abraham is trailing behind both him and Williams, even though she started this race as the frontrunner.

That means Abraham needs an extraordinary ad to make a difference. Her team’s first ad is okay, but it doesn’t pop. Will the second one?