Koch group pours nearly $5M into ads to boost three GOP Senate candidates

Koch group pours nearly $5M into ads to boost three GOP Senate candidates
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A conservative group backed by billionaire activist Charles Koch is launching a new multimillion-dollar ad campaign across three states to boost GOP Senate candidates in tough midterm election fights.
 
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is putting nearly $5 million behind ads set to go live on Thursday in Wisconsin, Missouri and Tennessee attacking the Democratic Senate candidates for their records on taxes, spending and health care.
 
“Americans can’t afford to continue electing politicians who believe the path to prosperity is through higher taxes, more spending, and bigger government,” said AFP president Tim Phillips. “We are committed to building broad policy coalitions by supporting principled champions and opposing those who will take our country in the wrong direction.”
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The biggest spend is in Missouri, where AFP will put $2.1 million behind a 30-second ad attacking Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-Mo.) as a “career politician” who voted for ObamaCare. The ad also highlights government contracts her husband’s company received.

“D.C. changed Claire McCaskill, it’s time to change our senator,” the ad states.

McCaskill is among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year and is one of 10 running in a state President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE carried in 2016.

Polls show McCaskill and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) running in a dead heat.
 
AFP is also going after Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinFederal funding for Chinese buses risks our national security Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall The Trump downturn: Trouble ahead for the US economy MORE (D-Wis.), another red-state Democrat, putting $800,000 behind an ad attacking the incumbent for supporting “higher taxes and more spending.”
 
Baldwin leads Republican Leah Vukmir by 10 points in the RealClearPolitics average, although Vukmir only officially became the GOP Senate candidate two weeks ago.
 
And AFP is spending $2 million on ads in deep-red Tennessee, where Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTaylor Swift 'obsessed' with politics, says she's cautious about celebrity support backfiring for Democrats The evolution of Taylor Swift's political activism Kellyanne Conway responds to Taylor Swift criticism by invoking pop star's lyrics MORE (R) faces a tough challenge from former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the fight to replace retiring Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R).

“While we struggled through a recession, Bredesen wasted $9 million taxpayer dollars upgrading his governor’s mansion, $4 million on a party cave, gilded bathrooms and a kitchen worth two Tennessee homes,” the ad says. “Phil Bredesen lived the life. We paid the bill.”
 
Bredesen’s campaign responded with an ad of its own called, “The Attacks Have Started.”

“Congressman Blackburn’s campaign promised they would closely coordinate with dark money groups and it’s clear they are making good on their promise of negative campaigning, following the losing DC Diane playbook,” said Alyssa Hansen, the press secretary for Bredesen’s campaign.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated that race a “toss-up.”

AFP is also active in the Florida Senate race, which features Gov. Rick Scott (R) taking on incumbent Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 MORE (D) in another “toss-up.”

And on Monday, AFP put $500,000 behind a 30-second television ad praising GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale (Mont.) for supporting a direct primary care bill that was vetoed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D).
 
Rosendale is trying to unseat Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment MORE (D) in a state Trump won easily in 2016.

But other than those five states, the Koch network is being more selective in where it makes an investment, even with Republicans going on offense in 10 states.

Top Koch network officials have expressed frustration with Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress and have said they will no longer be a rubber stamp for Republican candidates.

Earlier this year, AFP made an example out of Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerPrimary challenges show potential cracks in Trump's GOP Castro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline EPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects MORE (R-N.D.), saying it would not support his bid to unseat Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (D-N.D.), who is another top target for Republicans in November.