Little-Known Candidate Dominates Airwaves in South Carolina Presidential Primary

His ad purchases make him the biggest buyer among the Democratic presidential hopefuls at the moment in the early primary state.

An American bald eagle is seen prior to a game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs on April 4, 2009, at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Photographer: Nick Laham/Getty Images

While Hillary Clinton pours cash into TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, one lesser-known rival is seizing the moment to convince the people of South Carolina that he has the answer for boosting the economy: “Eaglenomics.”

Robby Wells, the former head football coach of Savannah State University and now a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, has paid for commercials to run 220 times on broadcast stations in Charleston, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach since Aug. 1 as part of his bid for the White House, according to data from Kantar Media's CMAG, which tracks political ads. That makes him the biggest buyer among the Democratic presidential hopefuls at the moment in the early primary state.

According to Wells' website, Eaglenomics combines “the absolute best from the Left Wing and the Right Wing.” His approach includes the use of high tariffs to protect U.S. manufacturing.

Wells is one of more than 1,100 people who have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission announcing the intent to run for president. Many, of course, haven't raised any money and appear to be doing so on a lark. What sets Wells' effort apart is that ad contracts filed with the Federal Communication Commission indicate the net costs of his spots add up to about $10,000.

“I've thrown a lot of my personal money in right now just trying to give us a boost,” Wells said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “We're in the process of raising some funds out here in California,” he said, adding that he wants to start ads in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Wells, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has run for president before. In 2011, he announced his 2012 campaign on the same day he reached a settlement after suing Savannah State over discrimination claims, the Savannah Morning News reported. The paper later reported the settlement paid him $240,000.

A campaign press release in July said he spent several months traveling through 60 counties in Iowa, visited Flint, Michigan, and planned to spend a weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a NASCAR race. 

“Living in Charlotte, NC, the hub of NASCAR racing, and being from the south coupled with the gracious extension by the speedway offering me credentials, this will be very exciting for my campaign,” Wells said in the statement. 

The Flint Journal in June reported on his Michigan trip and campaign promise of bringing millions of factory jobs back to the U.S.

In one ad, Wells, 47, says, “My special interest group is 330 million Americans, my special interest group is you. Rise up America.”

His campaign this year so far has raised $9,400, most of which has been spent, according to Federal Election Commission. The records were for spending through June 30. The campaign listed almost $16,000 in debt at the end of the first half and $485 in cash on hand. On Sept. 15, the FEC issued a letter saying it intended to terminate his campaign committee.

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