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 McCaskillMcCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government 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 TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE carried in 2016.

Polls show McCaskill and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) running in a dead heat.
 
 
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 BlackburnTrump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies Dem lawmaker invites Parkland survivor to attend State of the Union Bipartisan senators press Trump for strategy to protect Syrian Kurds MORE (R) faces a tough challenge from former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the fight to replace retiring Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy 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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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) TesterGOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms Mulvaney: Government shutdown on the table 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 CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration MORE (R-N.D.), saying it would not support his bid to unseat Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.), who is another top target for Republicans in November.