Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) wrote the IRS asking it to investigate whether the nonprofits are primarily engaged in political activity.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee went up Tuesday with its first ad targeting Republican businessman John Raese in West Virginia's special Senate election.
"He wants to eliminate the minimum wage, failed to pay workers compensation for on the job injuries," the ad's narrator says. "But one thing John Raese does support: a pledge that protected tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas."
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) finds himself beating back an unexpectedly strong challenge from Raese in the special election to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) term.
Privately, Democrats say they're confident Raese will fade as Manchin and the national party continue to aim their fire at him. But the DSCC's spending shows Democrats are worried about another seat that wasn't expected to be competitive moving toward the GOP.
The race is emerging as a top battleground between the two national party committees. The DSCC spot follows an ad buy last week from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is spending $1.2 million over a two week period on an ad tying Manchin (D) to President Obama and Democrats in Washington.
Manchin was thought to have an easy road to the Senate this fall after Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) declined to run against him leaving the stage to the self-funding Raese who lost by a wide margin to Byrd in 2006.
But recent polls have shown the souring national environment for Democrats and President Obama's unpopularity in the state are dragging Manchin down.
The NRSC followed the DSCC's first ad by highlighting its new anti-Manchin radio spot Tuesday that labels Manchin "Washington Joe."
The latest campaign ad from Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) paints his Republican opponent as a religious extremist, labeling him "Taliban Dan."
Grayson, who often finds the national spotlight thanks to attention-grabbing rhetoric aimed at Republicans, faces a tough challenge this fall from state Sen. Dan Webster (R).
"Religious fanatics try to take away our freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq and right here in Central Florida," the ad's announcer says before cutting to a black-and-white shot of Webster reciting a Bible passage that reads, "Wives, submit yourself to your own husband."
The ad goes on to accuse Webster of wanting to "impose his radical fundamentalism on us," claiming the Republican tried to deny medical care to abused women and "wants to force raped women to bear the child."
"Taliban Dan Webster — hands off our bodies and our laws," the ad concludes.
The nonpartisan website FactCheck.org has already said Grayson's spot "lowers the bar" by "using edited video to make his rival appear to be saying the opposite of what he really said."
The 30-second spot employs a clip from Webster speaking at a Christian conference last year; the full clip makes it clear that Grayson's ad quotes Webster wildly out of context.
The spot was released over the weekend and hit with criticism Monday from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), a prominent Webster backer. Huckabee called the ad "a sleazy, bigoted and Christophobic attack."
The Webster camp responded Monday with a statement from the candidate's wife, who called the ad "shameful."
"Dan has been an amazing husband and father, and the finest man I have ever known," Sandy Webster said in a statement. "Mr. Grayson should be ashamed of his nasty smears against my husband."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) jumped into West Virginia's special Senate election Friday, releasing an ad slamming Gov. Joe Manchin (D) for supporting "Barack Obama's big-government agenda."
Recent polling has shown a much closer race than had been expected to fill out the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), with Republican businessman John Raese in a dead heat with Manchin, according to the latest numbers from Public Policy.
The NRSC ad echoes the message the largely self-funding Raese has already been hitting Manchin with on the airwaves.
"Manchin supported Obama's stimulus plan that wasted $800 billion, increased debt and unemployment got worse," the ad's narrator says. "Manchin supported the government takeover of healthcare that cuts Medicare and raises costs."
The 30-second spot ends with a shot of Manchin and a smiling President Obama.
The NRSC's investment is a sizable one — according to a party source, the committee is spending $1.2 million total over the next two weeks on the buy, including spending in the D.C. market. It shows the national party is convinced the state is firmly in play this fall.
Competitive races in expensive media markets and the lifting of spending restrictions creates bonanza for media companies.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is up with a new spot attacking Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in the race to fill President Obama's former Senate seat.
The open-seat race would be a huge prize for Republicans if Kirk was able to top Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in November. The latest polling has the race in a dead heat.
The DSCC ad marks the first spot from either national committee in the race, though the National Republican Senatorial Committee has already pledged $3.4 million in coordinated money for Kirk.
The 30-second ad hits Kirk's July votes against the extension of unemployment benefits. "We've heard a lot about Mark Kirk's problems lately, but Kirk doesn't know much about ours," the ad says. "On unemployment, Kirk said, 'I've heard very little. I have a very high-income district.' "
The Kirk campaign hit back against the ad quickly Tuesday labeling it "misleading." The campaign said Kirk has voted to extend unemployment benefits a total of six times and has said he would do so again as long as the extension doesn't add to the deficit.
The campaign also pointed out that the Kirk quote the DSCC ad relied on came in 2008, "when unemployment stood at 5.5%."
The DSCC is already spending aggressively in both Colorado and Pennsylvania. The committee has sunk more than $1.5 million into ad buys against Ken Buck in Colorado and more than $2.5 million opposing former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). The committee is also spending in Delaware, where Democrat Chris Coons is now the prohibitive favorite thanks to Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell's GOP primary win, and in Missouri.
The NRSC has spent more than half a million on TV buys in both Colorado and Kentucky, where Republican Rand Paul is in a tight race against Democrat Jack Conway.
In response to the DSCC's ad buy in Illinois, NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh highlighted the financial commitment Republicans have already made to Kirk. "After they saw what happened to Broadway Bank investors and the Bright Start families, is it any wonder that national Democrats don't seem to trust Alexi Giannoulias with their money?" asked Walsh.
-Updated at 12:41 p.m.
If Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) is going to survive in his heavily Republican district this fall, he likely needs ads such as the one his campaign just released.
The 30-second spot takes aim at his own party's leadership in Washington, opening with the words, "When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi pressured Chet Edwards, Chet stood up to them and voted 'no' against their trillion-dollar healthcare bill."
The ad notes the longtime congressman votes with "the conservative Chamber of Commerce 67 percent of the time," and touts the candidate's endorsement from the National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund.
"When Washington liberals wanted to take away our guns," the ad's narrator said. "Chet said no."
It's another spot to add to the increasing number of centrist Democrats who are running away from their party in Washington ahead of November's midterms.
Last week, President Obama said he gets the fact that the message for some congressional Democrats this fall might not reflect the priorities of his administration, noting "that's how political races work."
Edwards's district is one that will serve as a pretty good indicator of just how large Republican gains will be this fall.
Given the nature of the district — it's the most Republican district in the country that's represented by a Democrat — it's a top GOP target and like most Republican challengers across the country, Bill Flores is trying to tie Edwards to the Democratic leadership in Congress.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has already run an IE ad against Edwards, taking a shot at his self-proclaimed independence by noting that he voted in favor of both the stimulus and financial bailout bills.
Gov. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is wasting no time going after his Republican opponent in the state's special election for Senate, taking aim at businessman John Raese with his campaign's first TV ad.
It's a no-frills 30-second spot with Manchin looking straight into the camera and hitting Raese for running a negative campaign.
"This campaign has just begun and John Raese is attacking me just like he attacked Senator Byrd," Manchin says in the ad. "Washington is filled with people like John Raese who tear other people down. No wonder we're in this mess."
The popular governor was expected to have an easy road in the special election after Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) decided against challenging him. But Raese is largely self-funding his bid and has already spent heavily on TV ads. The latest Rasmussen poll in the race only gave Manchin a six-point lead.
Manchin and Raese are battling for the right serve out the remainder of the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).
Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes (D) unleashed a hard-hitting attack ad Tuesday against former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) in the state's race for governor.
Barnes is seizing on the recent flap over Deal's tax returns, which the Republican released last week amid pressure from his opponent.
Deal resigned his House seat in March to focus on his campaign for governor, but the retirement also came after the Office of Congressional Ethics said he had improperly described income from his family's salvage business.
The 30-second spot from Barnes charges that "secrets are hidden in the details" of Deal's returns.
"That's why he resigned from Congress at midnight," the ad's narrator says. "Nathan Deal — too corrupt, even for Congress."
Deal narrowly won a runoff last month over Karen Handel for the right to take on Barnes. Deal received some prominent backing from two rumored Republican presidential hopefuls — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
(h/t: Atlanta Journal Constitution)
—Sean Miller contributed to this post.
Spending on political and issue ads ahead of the 2010 midterm elections is already approaching $1 billion, and one analyst predicts it's on track to reach $3 billion by November.
Ad Age has an interview with CMAG's Evan Tracey, who tracks political ad spending. Tracey said $864 million has already been spent this cycle, some $50 million more than was spent at this point in the 2008 election cycle.
"Historically, two-thirds of all election spending comes during the final 60 days, so we are on track to approach $3 billion in total spending on political and issue ads," Tracey told Ad Age.
The spending binge is being aided by self-funded candidates like Meg Whitman (R) in California and Linda McMahon (R) in Connecticut, as well as the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Citizens United case, which lifted restrictions on corporate and union spending.