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.
Rep. Jerry Moran's (R-Kan.) latest ad in the Kansas GOP Senate primary couldn't be more emblematic of the environment members of Congress face.
While Moran has been in Congress for seven terms, the ad emphasizes that he comes home on the weekend rather than taking part in "lavish dinners with friendly lobbyists." It also notes that he didn't vote for any bailouts, stimuli or Obama's healthcare plan.
The ad makes no mention of Moran's opponent, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who is an appropriator.
About the only thing missing is Scott Brown's truck; Moran is driving a car along the dirt roads of Kansas.
Michael J. Fox is making his return to the midterm elections after cutting ads for two Senate hopefuls in 2006.
Nobody can say Alexi Giannoulias's Senate campaign wasn't ready for his family's bank to go under.
The Illinois Democrat's campaign on Monday launched its first general election ad, and the candidate asserts he is "very proud" to have worked for Broadway Bank.
"It's helped thousands of people achieve the American dream -- people who couldn't go to the big banks," Giannoulias says of the bank, adding that, "when I left over four years ago, it was in good shape."
Giannoulias closes by saying: "If a business like my father's that he started 30 years ago can fail, it's happening everywhere. People want someone who's going to fight for them."
Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) campaign is attacking former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) again for being a "birther."