Political campaigns typically blanket the airwaves with ads during election season. But eagle-eyed viewers flipping between Blazers games and Olympic events have noticed something novel: dueling TV ads arguing about bills currently being weighed by the Oregon Legislature.
The subject? The so-called "Clean Energy Jobs Bills," which aim to reduce carbon emissions with taxes on big polluters and use the money to invest in green jobs.
Viewers can't vote on these bills. But they're being urged to call their legislators and make demands.
On one side: the business-backed group Priority Oregon, urging a "no" vote.
"While the plan won't really reduce pollution," says its ad, "it will raise your cost of living by to $1,000 a year."
Renew Oregon, a nonprofit that supports the bills, fought back with a $200,000 TV and social media campaign of its own.
"The Clean Energy Jobs Bill will cut pollution, invest in wildfire prevention and create good jobs," Renew Oregon's ad says. "Tell your state legislators it's time to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Bill."
Because both Priority Oregon and Renew Oregon are organized as nonprofits, they are not required to disclose the source of their funding or their expenditures under Oregon's elections law, as candidates' political action committees are.
Mark Wiener, a veteran political consultant who is not involved with the Clean Energy Jobs Bills, says ads directed at specific legislation are increasing. "This is a tactic that is becoming more common in Oregon and other places," Wiener says.
It can be particularly useful, he says, when an issue is "on the bubble" with strong support on both sides.
"People may not be used to it," Wiener says, "but it's a tactic that we will probably see more of in the future."