© Greg Nash
Republican opposition research firm America Rising is storming ahead after Tuesday's primaries, launching a warning shot at vulnerable Democrats now have that their Republican opponents officially have the party's nominations.
In a new memo to donors sent Wednesday morning and obtained by The Hill, top America Rising executives Joe Pounder and Alexandra Smith sent donors an early look at their strategy to attack Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Manchin: Biden told moderates to pitch price tag for reconciliation bill Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions MORE (W.Va.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden's spending package Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE (Ind.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Democrats seeking information from SPACs, questioning 'misaligned incentives' Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Centrist state lawmaker enters Ohio GOP Senate primary MORE (Ohio).
All three senators are on the GOP target list after President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE won their states in 2016. The group plans to paint the lawmakers as too liberal for their state's red-leaning electorates.
"The combination of opposition research and rapid response is the most effective way to define a candidate and influence the trajectory of a race. America Rising PAC is prepared to deploy our research to exploit the vulnerabilities of Senators Manchin, Donnelly, and Brown to voters in their states who overwhelmingly supported the President," the two write in the memo, noting they have more than 1,600 pages of opposition research on the three senators and have tracked them across tens of thousands of miles.
"America Rising PAC is focused on an aggressive earned media effort applying opposition research on a daily basis to define the narrative against these Democratic Senators."
In West Virginia, Republicans dodged what they considered a bullet — the primary campaign of ex-convict and former coal baron Don Blankenship, who was defeated Tuesday night. The GOP saw Blankenship, who was convicted of willfully conspiring to violate mine safety laws after a fatal mine explosion that killed 29 miners, as a risk to their chances to defeat Manchin.
After Blankenship's primary defeat, the party can move ahead with state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey as their nominee.
The America Rising document bashes Manchin for claiming to be a "bipartisan moderate" while sitting "to the left of West Virginia voters on most issues."
The group plans to hit Manchin for his vote against the GOP tax plan while highlighting his admission in December that there are "some good things" in the bill that could help people. They also plan to target Manchin's work to expand background checks in 2013 and his support for raising the minimum age to purchase a rifle in 2018, days after a deadly shooting at a Florida high school.
But even as West Virginia has moved significantly to the right since Manchin joined office, he's a well-established brand there. Democrats see him as virtually the only Democrat who could keep that seat in play.
In Indiana, where businessman Mike Braun took the top spot in the Republican primary, America Rising plans to double down on the GOP's top line of attack on Donnelly, criticizing him for ties to a family company that relied on workers in Mexico.
They're also looking to paint Donnelly as a foe of the Trump administration, pointing to audio where he described the Trump base as not representative of the country as well as a fundraising pitch critical of Vice President Pence.
Donnelly's camp has been pushing back against those attacks for months by highlighting public policy research that shows him as one of the most bipartisan senators in Congress.
Donnelly and Braun are expected to face off in one of the toughest matchups of the 2018 election cycle in a state Trump won by 19 points.
In Ohio, where Republicans are hoping Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciGovernors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates Former House Republican to challenge DeWine for Ohio gubernatorial nomination The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Republicans seek to sink Jan. 6 commission MORE can finally knock off Brown, America Rising is planning to attack Brown's progressive record as proof that his status at the "darling of the progressive Left" doesn't fit in the purple state.
The memo points to his support for single-payer health care — a measure Republicans love to needle Democrats for supporting by noting its significant cost. The GOP also uses that legislation to tie Brown to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Manchin: Biden told moderates to pitch price tag for reconciliation bill Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions MORE (I-Vt.), an avid supporter of the plan that is wildly popular on the left but far more controversial on the right.
But dislodging Brown will be difficult — he's held elected office in the state for more than 30 years, and his populist streak has allowed him to run ahead of other Democrats in Ohio.
--Updated at 4:10 p.m.