It’s silly season on television, as candidates compete on crowded airwaves for voters’ dwindling attention.
Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) for voting for "outrageous" government spending, including studies on how monkeys act when they’re on cocaine, with an ad that featured a monkey — presumably on cocaine.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is attacking Rep. Tom Cotton (R) with an ad this week that suggests Cotton voted to cut funding for programs that would protect against an Ebola outbreak.
And New Mexico GOP Senate candidate Allen Weh is standing by a campaign video touting him that features a shot of photojournalist James Foley's killer holding a knife, despite Sen. Tom Udall’s (D) campaign decrying the video.
But there’s a good reason why candidates stand by the stunts, and it’s the reason why voters will likely see more of them over the next two months: after hours of bland he-said she-said fact-filled attack ads, it’s the cocaine monkeys and Ebola scares that voters remember.
AK-SEN (BEGICH): The International Association of Fire Fighters is out with a new ad backed by a little more than $160,000 tying GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan to the Koch brothers and suggesting they’re working to shut down a local oil refinery, which will eliminate jobs in the area. Sullivan’s out with an ad of his own, in which he decries outside spending and shoots a television, for emphasis.
MS-SEN (COCHRAN): State Sen. Chris McDaniel’s legal team responded Tuesday to an attempt by Sen. Thad Cochran (R) to have McDaniel’s legal challenge to Cochran’s runoff win thrown out because it was allegedly filed too late. McDaniel’s legal team argued the deadline cited by Cochran’s attorneys only relates to old election laws.
KS-SEN (ROBERTS): In Chad Taylor's first TV ad, a 30-second spot set to hit airwaves Labor Day weekend, the two-term Shawnee County district attorney touts his Kansas roots — an implicit knock on incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who’s faced questions about whether he still lives in Kansas.
KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition’s new ad touts Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) work securing funds for Kentucky universities to “support high-tech innovation” and to start a new VA facility in the state. The ad runs statewide on TV and radio, backed by an $800,000 buy. McConnell's Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, on Tuesday countered by touting the endorsement of former secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In a statement, Albright called Grimes one of the "brightest young leaders in America." Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is reportedly heading to Kentucky to raise money for McConnell.
AR-SEN (PRYOR): A new ad from Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) cites the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to hit GOP opponent Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) for cuts to medical and emergency programs. Meanwhile, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) endorsed Cotton, saying his life story is “admirable from an American point of view” and that Cotton has taken it upon himself to help fight back against “irrational jihadists.”
IA-SEN (OPEN): Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is essentially tied with Republican Joni Ernst — 41 to 40 percent, respectively, among likely voters — according to a new survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, the latest indication the race is more of a challenge than Democrats had expected. In a two-person field, Braley and Ernst are statistically tied, each taking 42 percent of the vote.
NC-SEN (HAGAN): President Obama pecked Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on the cheek Tuesday, shortly after landing in Charlotte, N.C., ahead of a speech on veterans affairs. It’s a kiss that’s likely to make headlines in North Carolina, where Hagan is running for reelection over North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis this fall in one of the fights that will determine whether the Senate majority stays in Democratic hands.
NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte has endorsed Scott Brown over two other Republicans vying for the chance to take on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) this fall in a new ad that labels him Ayotte's “friend.” He’s also got the backing of real estate mogul Donald Trump. Two GOP groups are also up with new ads hitting Shaheen, one suggesting she’s personally profited from her connections in Congress, another which ties her to Obama.
MI-SEN (OPEN): Democratic Rep. Gary Peters highlights his Michigan ties and independence in his first ad, a bio spot that also says he’s run his office so efficiently he’s returned money to the government and opposed congressional pay raises. Peters says in the ad that “government needs to do more with less.” His GOP opponent, former secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, also has a new ad out attacking Peters for allegedly allowing Michigan gas tax dollars to go to Washington rather than fixing the state’s roads.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
DCCC: House Democrats are launching a new campaign targeting 10 Republican candidates and incumbents they deem the “worst of the worst” offenders on women's issues via a scorecard that highlights their positions on a range of female-friendly legislation.
NH-02 (KUSTER): The Club for Growth launched a new ad calling former state Sen. Gary Lambert “laughably liberal” and touting state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, whom the group has endorsed to take on Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster this fall.
CO-06 (COFFMAN): Endangered Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.) strikes a decidedly Democratic tone in his first ad, a 30-second spot highlighting his service as a Marine, his work to protect victims of sexual assault in the military and his efforts two decades ago as a state legislator to prevent health insurers from discriminating on the basis of gender.
CT-05 (ESTY): Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s first ad features a local Vietnam veteran touting her work to help secure his Social Security benefits. “Elizabeth got things done, and she got it done quick. She cares a lot about veterans, and she makes you feel like you’re part of her family,” he says.
NY-21 (OPEN): Democrat Aaron Woolf touts his commitment to “fighting for the things that matter” to women in the district in a new ad, a key voting bloc in his contest with Republican Elise Stefanik for retiring Rep. Bill Owens’s (D) seat.
IL-10 (SCHNEIDER): Former Rep. Bob Dold (R) portrays himself as a nonpartisan problem-solver in his new ad, which makes no reference to his tenure in Congress. “Running a small business, raising three kids, Dold knows we’ve got problems to solve,” the ad says.
FL-02 (SOUTHERLAND): A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee features average people hitting Democrat Gwen Graham, challenging targeted GOP Rep. Steve Southerland, for her support for ObamaCare. Graham, however, hit back win an ad of her own, in which she calls the attack “ridiculous” because she wasn’t in office when ObamaCare was passed and says that “ObamaCare’s got to be changed so it works.”
WV-2 (OPEN): GOP nominee Alex Mooney released his first general election ad, touting his opposition to ObamaCare, "Obama's war on coal" and his 100 percent NRA rating.
PAUL: Sen. Rand Paul's wife, Kelley, said there are a few checkpoints left before the Kentucky Republican can decide whether to "pull the trigger" on a presidential run. "I wouldn't say that," she said, when asked on a local radio show if she is opposed to a White House bid. "I would say, though, that we just have a lot more talking to do about the subject."
In Rock Hill on Monday endorsing Rep. Mick Mulvaney's (R-S.C.) reelection bid, Paul called for a "bigger, better and bolder" Republican party.
SANDERS: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is gearing up for a presidential primary challenge against Hillary Clinton and hopes to capitalize on Democratic concerns over Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street banks.
O’MALLEY: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is weighing a presidential bid, is reportedly sending more than two dozen staffers to states with competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, including, most notably, Iowa and New Hampshire. CNN reports he’s sending staffers to South Carolina as well.
RUBIO: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned President Obama on Tuesday that sweeping executive action on immigration would preclude any meaningful reform from Congress, writing in a letter, "If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He has great hands.”
–Piedmont Medical Center’s chief medical officer, Dr. James Wood, on licensed ophthalmologist and potential 2016 candidate Rand Paul. The pair reportedly performed surgeries while both in Atlanta.