House races

Dem claims cash boost after controversial Republican ad

Brad Ashford, the Democratic state senator seeking to upset Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb), has raised more than $20,500 from 434 online donations since national Republicans released an ad Friday that aimed to tie Ashford to a convicted murderer, the campaign said Monday.

“Rather than do the respectable thing and denounce these racist, fear-mongering ads, Lee Terry has defended them,” Kurt Gonska, Ashford’s campaign manager, said in an email.  “It’s hurting his campaign as we’ve seen a huge influx of individual online donations come in as a direct response to the outrage voters feel.”

{mosads}The National Republican Congressional Committee’s ad seeks to tie Ashford to Nikko Jenkins, who left jail on an early release program and later killed four people. It says that Ashford, as chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Senate Judiciary Committee, defends the program and didn’t work to limit those early releases.

But the ad has angered many, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who called the ad “racist,” and Terry’s GOP primary opponent, Dan Frei (Jenkins is African-American.).

Ashford’s campaign has been aggressively fundraising against the ad, in addition to calling on the NRCC to remove it. It sent five emails since Friday asking supporters for donations to fight back.

Kent Grisham, Terry’s campaign manager, said in an email that the campaign would not have made the ad, but insisted that it raises an important question. 

“Our campaign has not and will not use any specific criminal’s or any specific victim’s name or image in any of our ads,” he said. “But it highlights a legitimate issue for the voters to consider: Why, after Jenkins committed four murders and the ‘Good Time’ law was shown to be a huge threat to public safety, did Brad Ashford refuse to reform ‘Good Time’ and block the reform bill brought by the governor and attorney general?”

Grisham touted the campaign’s recent ad that talks about the Good Time law, Nebraska’s program that automatically cuts prison time on prisoners for each day of good behavior they serve behind bars. That ad doesn’t specifically mention direct cases, but the Ashford campaign wants it retracted too.

“Brad Ashford has kept Nebraskans in danger, even with overwhelming proof and support for reforms to ‘Good Time’ and other sentencing issues,” he said. “That’s not good enough for someone who wants to be a Congressman and who we need to trust to protect us from all enemies, both foreign and domestic.”

Tyler Q. Houlton, an NRCC spokesman, said that the group would not take down the ad because it’s accurate.

“Brad Ashford should apologize to the victim’s families for supporting a reckless law that releases violent criminals after only serving half of their original prison sentences,” he said. “Nebraska voters deserve to know that Brad Ashford supports policies that have made them less safe.”

Randy Adkins, the head of the political science department at University of Nebraska at Omaha, said that any ad that keeps public discussion on the law is beneficial for Terry, but cautioned that it could backfire.

“The danger for Terry is that there could be a backlash, which is always possible when politicians and their campaigns or their surrogates run negative political ads,” he said. “Unfortunately, the jury is out on that question until Election Day.” 

Tags Brad Ashford Lee Terry Nebraska Negative campaigning

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