Senate races

Vulnerable GOP senator hits opponent over campaign finance

Greg Nash

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s reelection campaign on Thursday launched a new ad knocking former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) over the political action committee that Johnson’s challenger founded in 2011.

{mosads}The 30-second spot, entitled “In It For Himself,” knocks Feingold for saying that Progressives United PAC will help raise money “to support candidates directly.” The ad cites news reports including a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report from June 2015 that found the PAC gave 5 percent of the contributions it received to federal candidates and political parties.

Feingold’s PAC, which was created after he lost reelection to the Republican Johnson in 2010, has been a frequent target during the race as Johnson’s campaign seeks to illustrate how Feingold has changed since starting his Senate tenure in 1993. The new TV and digital ad, which is part of a seven-figure ad buy, will run statewide through Election Day.  

“Senator Feingold promised Progressives United would help candidates and causes, then spent most of the money on himself and his political operation,” Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger said. “He’s abandoned his principles, lied to Wisconsinites, and become everything people hate about politics, all to get back to Washington.”
 
Feingold’s campaign pushed back on the ad, taking aim at Johnson’s own record and comparing him to Donald Trump and the GOP presidential nominee’s rhetoric. The Wisconsin Democrat’s campaign has also launched new ads highlighting the GOP senator for calling Social Security “a Ponzi scheme” and a radio ad linking Johnson to Trump.
 
“Sen. Johnson can’t defend his failed record in Washington of protecting big corporations and multi-millionaires like himself at the expense of Wisconsin’s working families, so he’s spending the final weeks of the campaign rehashing old partisan lies and lashing out with angry insults like Donald Trump,” Feingold spokesman Michael Tyler said.
 
Johnson and Feingold have been trading barbs in the final weeks of the race, which will likely determine which party controls the Senate next year.
 
Democrats have been consistently leading the state, which was carried by President Obama in both 2008 and 2012.
 
Feingold had a double-digit edge, but recent polls show a tightening race and some surveys have the Wisconsin Democrat leading within the margin of error. Feingold leads by more than 6 points in a RealClearPolitics polling average.
Tags Donald Trump Ron Johnson
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