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Chamber to launch ads defending embattled GOP senators

Chamber to launch ads defending embattled GOP senators
© Bonnie Cash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch new advertising campaigns on behalf of Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump faces test of power with early endorsements GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border Blackburn introduces bill to require migrant DNA testing at border MORE (R-Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings GOP senator recovering from surgery for prostate cancer Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured MORE (R-N.C.) next week, the group’s first major foray into two battleground states at the heart of the fight for control of the Senate.

The Chamber will spend a six-figure sum in the Cedar Rapids and Des Moines media markets, and an additional $100,000 on advertising directed to streaming services to reach cord-cutters in order to promote an Ernst bill to cut prescription drug costs. Data compiled by a source watching the advertising market pegged the TV spending at about $350,000.

“The U.S. Chamber is supportive of this common-sense solution that will lower prescription drug prices for Iowa seniors and families, particularly crucial in light of the COVID-19. This issue advocacy campaign highlights the business community’s support for Sen. Ernst and her willingness to fight for Iowans on these important issues,” said Ashlee Rich Stephenson, the Chamber’s national political director.

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The Chamber will spend $500,000 defending Tillis in the Raleigh market next week. Details of the advertisement itself were not immediately available on Friday. The business group endorsed both senators for reelection earlier this summer.

Ernst faces a stiff challenge from Theresa Greenfield (D), a real estate executive who briefly ran for Congress in 2018. A Monmouth poll conducted at the beginning of August showed Ernst with a narrow 3-point lead, six years after Ernst won her seat by 8 percentage points.

In North Carolina, Tillis faces former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D), who is polling ahead of the incumbent. Cunningham has led in four polls conducted in the last two weeks by margins ranging from 2 to 9 percentage points.

The new ads mark an expansion of the Chamber of Commerce’s spending this year beyond three other states where they have invested in Republican candidates.

The Chamber has spent $609,000 on behalf of Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate MORE (R-Maine) and $504,000 backing Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), two more incumbents polling behind their Democratic rivals.

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The Chamber also doled out $329,000 to boost Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallCompanies sidestep self-imposed bans on GOP donations Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general Overnight Health Care: Biden says country will pass 100 million COVID-19 shots this week | US to send surplus AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Mexico, Canada | Senate confirms Becerra for HHS in tight vote MORE (R), who last week won the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (R-Kan.) over an arch conservative rival.

The Chamber of Commerce in recent years has been one of the most significant sources of outside spending, particularly in U.S. Senate contests. The group spent almost $11 million in 2018, more than $29 million in 2016 and $35 million in both 2014 and 2012.

This year, they have spent just under $2 million.

Both Iowa and North Carolina have attracted more outside spending already than any other Senate contests in the nation, according to Federal Election Commission records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. The two sides have spent more than $27 million in North Carolina and $24 million in Iowa, beyond the millions more that the four major party candidates have already spent.

Outside groups have already spent a whopping $528 million trying to influence voters this year for White House, Senate and House races. Those groups have spent almost as much on Senate races — $205 million — as they have on the battle for the White House, $219 million.