Morning Digest: The ad wars heat up early in Ohio’s Senate race

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Voice-Over | 0 comments


AZ-Sen: GOP Sen. John McCain’s latest ad attacks Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for being soft on Iran while also featuring some old still photos of the senator from his Navy days as a narrator says he has “a lifetime of service.” (If you really want to learn about McCain’s military past, check out this fascinating must-read profile from Tim Dickinson.) Meanwhile, a super PAC called Arizona Grassroots Action has a new spot that slashes at McCain’s primary opponent, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, over a bill she sponsored to curtail local law enforcement “from sharing intelligence with national officials.” Had Ward been successful, the voiceover suggests, authorities might not have stopped terror suspect Mahin Kahn.

FL-Sen: Now that Donald Trump’s endorsed Marco Rubio, businessman Carlos Beruff can no longer attack his primary opponent for insufficiently supporting his party’s presidential nominee, so instead, he’s running a new ad that compares Rubio to Gov. Charlie Crist, the former Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat now loathed by the GOP. The spot features two wireframe homunculi (one of “Rubio,” the other of “Crist”) that the narrator, with a voice that is supposed to sound vaguely “computerized,” compares in substance-free fashion, concluding the two are “virtually identical.” The wealthy Beruff is reportedly putting just $153,000 behind this buy (all on Fox News), which Politico characterizes as “slowing TV spending” compared to his previously torrid pace. Polls have shown Beruff hopelessly trailing.

IN-Sen, Gov: A new internal poll from Democrat John Gregg, conducted by Expedition Strategies, finds him with a healthy 46-39 lead on Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, whom Republicans just swapped in as a replacement for Gov. Mike Pence. (Do you think Pence wishes he could have backsies?) While those numbers are definitely good for Gregg, the Senate results are truly eye-popping: Democrat Evan Bayh is smashing GOP Rep. Todd Young by a monster 58-32 margin, bigger even than his already-considerable 54-33 advantage in a DSCC poll last month. (The Gregg campaign did not provide results for the presidential race.)

Despite these daunting numbers, Republicans are still planning to compete here. The Senate Leadership Fund, which spent $800,000 helping Young win the primary, says it will throw in another $1 million to stop Bayh with a series of ads beginning Friday. That’s on top of a similar $1 million spree from the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners, as well as a separate advertising campaign from the NRSC. The committee’s new spot predictably attacks Bayh as an Obama lackey and calls him “dishonest” for pledging to work across party lines.

NH-Sen: Last week, Boston magazine reported that AFSCME and EMILY’s List were going in together on a $1.5 million buy to help out Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Now we have the spot, which features a woman who identifies herself as a mom and then explains that she while she can “give permission” and “give hugs” (cue kid), she “can’t give millions of dollars to a campaign.” After a narrator references the Koch brothers, the woman says that GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte “listens to too many millionaires and not enough moms.” For whatever reason, EMILY’s List is not name-checked when the traditional disclaimer is read at the end of the ad.

Meanwhile, the Karl Rove group One Nation (whatever happened to Crossroads GPS, man?) is dredging up an old ad from June that hit Hassan for allegedly spending taxpayer money for state troopers to travel with her to non-official events. The new buy is for a reported $1.3 million.

PA-Sen: Fearmongering about the Middle East has been one of the most common themes in Republican attack ads this cycle, alternating between expressions of hate toward Syrian refugees and disgust for the nuclear deal with Iran. The latter is the target of a new NRSC spot targeting Democrat Katie McGinty, but there’s not really much new we can say about such messages. Does polling show that this is particularly effective for Republicans? Or is this simply the best that they’ve got?

Freedom Partners doesn’t seem to think so, at least, since they’re going in a different direction with their new $2 million buy. Their new TV ad accuses McGinty of self-dealing: helping “steer millions of our tax dollars to companies that promised to help us,” but instead McGinty benefited with a “six-figure salary” and “campaign cash.” The charges are so vague, though, that it’s hard to follow. The narrator doesn’t even mention a particularly industry, let alone a specific company. Is this the best they’ve got?


MO-Gov, Sen: We have our first poll of the general election in Missouri following last week’s primary, which comes from Republican pollster Remington Research on behalf of local tipsheet Missouri Scout. The survey finds Democrat Chris Koster edging Republican Eric Greitens by a narrow 45-43 margin in the gubernatorial race, a far cry from the huge 52-33 lead Koster sported in a recent Mason-Dixon poll. Given the dearth of polling plus Greitens’ low name recognition, it may be a while yet before we get a clear read on this contest.

We also have our first post-primary TV ad from Koster, a minute-long spot he’s been airing since last week in which he touts his work as a county prosecutor in rural Missouri (and skips over his career as a state senator and the state’s attorney general). Koster focuses on his efforts to stop domestic violence, but also adds that he sued “Barack Obama’s EPA, to keep federal regulators off our land,” an almost obligatory inclusion from a Democrat running in a red state.

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, there’s much closer alignment between pollsters. Remington has GOP Sen. Roy Blunt leading Democrat Jason Kander 47-40, not too different from the 47-43 advantage Mason-Dixon gave to the incumbent. The two firms also share a similar outlook on the presidential race: Remington finds Donald Trump up just 44-42 in a four-way race, while Mason-Dixon had Hillary Clinton ahead 41-40. It’s pretty remarkable to see the race so close, particularly after two polls just last month had Trump in front by 10 points each, but given The Donald’s collapse and Clinton’s surge nationwide, plus the fact that Barack Obama almost won here in 2008, it’s not entirely implausible.

As it happens, Kander is also up with his first TV spot. Footage of a grim landscape rolls by as Kander speaks: “This is what Afghanistan looks like when you’re an extra gun in an unarmored SUV.” He then goes on to say he enlisted after 9/11 and describes his work as an Army intelligence officer “rooting out corruption in the Afghan government.” He draws a line from that work to his job as secretary of state, where he “worked to reform state government” and “save tax dollars.”


FL-11: Republican Rep. Dan Webster, who is running in an almost entirely new district, is running his third ad ahead of the Aug. 30 primary, a pretty jejune spot in which he attacks Washington spending. Also, what appear to be his grandkids rather inexplicably feed some baby goats from bottles. (We know baby goats are called “kids” but that would have been even more confusing.) Webster faces Justin Grabelle, a former chief of staff to retiring Rep. Rich Nugent.

FL-23: Patriot Majority, a combination 501(c)/super PAC with close ties to Harry Reid, had been one of the larger outside spenders on the Democratic side in recent years, but this cycle, they’ve been pretty quiet so far. But one of only two candidates the group has helped so far this cycle has had anything but a quiet re-election campaign: former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Yet while much of the Democratic establishment was happy to see her ousted as party chair, she’s still getting some love from Patriot Majority, which has now spent over $250,000 on mailers for her ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

They’ve also released a new poll from Global Strategy Group showing Wasserman Schultz with a 59-26 lead over her challenger, law professor Tim Canova. That’s in contrast to a recent FM3 internal from Canova that put Wasserman Schultz up 46-38, but both surveys do have one thing in common: They have the incumbent on top. Canova, meanwhile, has been sending out some seriously chutzpahdik mailers attacking Wasserman Schultz for supporting the Iran nuclear deal, so even he knows he has ground to make up. (Poll via Ben Pershing.)

IA-01: A good catch by Kimberly Railey: The NRCC finally added freshman Rep. Rod Blum to its Patriot Program, which is designed to help the GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents. Blum has enjoyed a notoriously awful relationship with his party’s leadership after he joined the failed coup to oust John Boehner last year, though Paul Ryan has treated him a bit more warmly. Still, even if the NRCC comes to his aid, Blum faces a strong opponent in Democrat Monica Vernon—and a serious headwind by virtue of the fact that Barack Obama carried this district by a 56-43 margin.

WI-08: Democrat Tom Nelson’s third TV ad features locals (who really do seem to be locals, not actors) who praise him for helping people find new jobs after the “devastating” closure of a paper mill. After a narrator says he’ll oppose “unfair trade deals,” Nelson then criticizes Congress for failing to stop “unfair foreign imports from taking our jobs.” Both parties plan to contest this swingy open seat, and according to the National Journal, the NRCC has reserved $935,000 in TV time here, a similar amount to what Democratic groups had previously reported booking.

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and Stephen Wolf.

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