NRCC hammers Sink on taxpayer-funded plane

National Republicans are launching a paid online attack against Florida Democratic House candidate Alex Sink focused on her use of a taxpayer-funded airplane.

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It’s the first effort from the national party to boost their candidate, former Rep. Bill Young (R) staffer and lobbyist David Jolly, in a race that looks like a difficult lift for the GOP to hold, in part because of Jolly’s candidacy.

Democrats have already been out hammering Jolly for his lobbying background, and Republicans admit that that baggage makes it more difficult for them to focus on ObamaCare and Sink’s record as chief financial officer of Florida, which they see as winning issues in the swing district.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is charging in a Web ad that Sink spent $400,000 in taxpayer money on a plane that she misused for personal and campaign trips.

“What’s behind Alex Sink’s friendly smile? A long record of wasting taxpayer money,” a narrator says in the ad.

“Now she wants to jet off to Washington to be our congresswoman? Alex Sink: She’s no friend of the taxpayer,” the narrator closes.

According to an NRCC aide, the Web ad is being pushed to Pinellas County voters online with a six-figure video network buy.

The attack is reminiscent of one used against Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill by Republicans last cycle. They highlighted taxpayer funds she spent to fly on a private plane she co-owns in repeated attacks that hobbled her candidacy, though she ultimately went on to win that race due to a weak GOP nominee.

But Democrats say the attack has already been used against Sink, during her 2010 gubernatorial bid against Rick Scott (R), and that voters will be able to see through them.

“These are the same discredited, Rick Scott style attacks that have already been rejected by Pinellas residents," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein. "Washington lobbyist David Jolly has already been caught red-handed misleading voters about his record of lobbying for special interests, and now National Republicans are following Jolly’s lead and not telling the truth."

Both Sink and Jolly went up with ads on Wednesday, the morning after the primary, touting their own credentials. The ads exhibited a stark contrast in quality, a reflection of Jolly’s low campaign coffers. Sink reported more than $1 million in the bank just before the primary, while Jolly posted $141,000 cash on hand.

The NRCC’s ad is slickly produced, however, and a clear example of the boost Jolly stands to gain if national GOP groups decide to jump into the race — a development that remains uncertain, because, as one strategist put it, “it’s an expensive problem to solve for a race that’s not a must-win.”

--This piece was updated at 5 p.m. to reflect comment from the DCCC.

Watch the ad: