Lincoln Project targets Senate races in Alaska, Maine, Montana with $4M ad buy

The Lincoln Project, a GOP anti-Trump group, on Wednesday launched a $4 million ad buy targeting Senate contests in Maine, Alaska and Montana. 

The buy, which was first reported by Axios, will air for seven to 10 days in key markets in the three states. 

The ads in Alaska and Maine express support for challengers to Republican incumbent Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesStimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility On The Money: GDP shrinks by record amount in second quarter amid virus lockdowns | Jobless claims rise for second straight week | McConnell tees up fight on unemployment benefits GOP senators propose stimulus checks of ,000 for both adults and children MORE (Mont.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanLincoln Project targets Senate races in Alaska, Maine, Montana with M ad buy Overnight Energy: Official says protesters not cleared from Lafayette Square for Trump | Trump administration blasts banks refusing to fund Arctic drilling | 2019 coal production hit lowest level since 1978 Trump administration blasts banks that refuse to fund arctic drilling MORE (Alaska). The spots are dubbed "Real" in Alaska and "Strong" in Montana. The group endorsed Democrat Al Gross in its ad in Alaska ahead of the state's Democratic and independent primary on Aug. 18. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, in Maine, the group is airing an ad titled "Trump Stooge," which targets incumbent Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE

"We’re moving into the active phase of the fall campaign as voters, stuck at home because of COVID-19, tune in earlier than ever," the group's communications director Keith Edwards told Axios.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign committee hit the group over the ads in a statement on Wednesday, taking aim specifically at Collins's opponent, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D). 

“This Democrat scam PAC is run by ethically challenged and shady grifters who are backed by liberal billionaires. Like the candidate they seek to help, Democrat Sara Gideon, this PAC has struggled with rampant hypocrisy, unethical behavior, and ties to foreign governments," said NRSC spokesman Nathan Brand.

"Gideon must answer for how she can accept the support of an organization with these problematic ties to Russians, while her campaign relies on political donations from a Putin-tied corporate executive. Mainers know that Senator Susan Collins is the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate, and her leadership has helped deliver for Maine.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Collins campaign touted what they called the senator's bipartisan record in Congress in a statement to The Hill. 

“Senator Collins is literally the most bipartisan member of Congress, and Georgetown University’s Lugar Center called her the 'Gold Standard' for bipartisanship," said Riley Ploch, a spokesperson for the Collins campaign.

"In stark contrast, this ad is a perfect example of how Sara Gideon is running her campaign - dodging debates, staying hidden in Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerMeadows: 'I'm not optimistic there will be a solution in the very near term' on coronavirus package Biden calls on Trump, Congress to enact an emergency housing program Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery MORE’s windowless basement, and letting billionaire Democratic donors run attack ads on her account.”

The Daines campaign hit back in a statement, calling the Lincoln Project a group of "disgruntled former Republicans."

"This group is nothing more than disgruntled former Republicans, turned Democrats, that hate President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE - something this group has in common with Governor Bullock, who has said his single most important issue this election is defeating Donald Trump," campaign spokesperson Julia Doyle said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Hill has also reached out to the Sullivan campaign for comment. 

The spots come as Daines and Collins face tough contests in their reelection bids.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the Montana Senate race, where Daines is facing off against Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockLincoln Project targets Senate races in Alaska, Maine, Montana with M ad buy Exclusive: Poll shows pressure on vulnerable GOP senators to back state and local coronavirus aid Democrats' lurch toward the radical left — and other useful myths MORE (D), as a "toss-up." In Maine, the website also rates the race as a "toss-up."

The Cook Political Report moved the Alaska Senate race from "solid Republican" to "likely Republican" last month. Four candidates, including Gross, are running in the state's Democratic and independent primary. 

Updated at 11:07 a.m.