Veterans group unveils $800K ad buy

VoteVets Action Fund, a veterans advocacy group, is launching an $800,000 ad campaign to boost candidates in three key races.

The group unveiled a trio of new ads on Monday backing Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.), Rep. Gary Peters (R) in his Michigan Senate run and Hawaii state Rep. Mark Takai (D) in his House challenge.

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National security issues have made a strong return to the campaign trail as the U.S. steps up its fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Many top-tier GOP Senate candidates in recent weeks have played up their military service backgrounds.

VoteVets is spending $300,000 in Arkansas, where Rep. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft MORE (R), an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, is trying to unseat Pryor in a race that could tip control of the Senate.

The 30-second spot features John Simmons, a Vietnam veteran from Little Rock, charging that Cotton voted to use an inflation measure known as chained CPI that critics say reduces veterans’ pensions and disability payments.

“You might have heard Tom Cotton voted against seniors and farmers in Washington, D.C.  But it’s also important that you know he voted against veterans. Veterans, like me,” Simmons says.

“Ten major veterans groups opposed it,” he adds. “But Tom Cotton voted for it anyway! Do I respect Tom Cotton’s military service? I sure do. Trust him enough to send him to the Senate? Not a chance.”

VoteVets is doling out another $270,000 to run a positive ad for Peters, who's facing Republican Terri Lynn Land for an open Senate seat in Michigan.

“You can tell a lot about a person by their actions. A Navy reservist and successful businessman, Gary Peters re-enlisted after 9/11,” Alan Opra, a Vietnam veteran from Macomb, says over a video montage of the lawmaker.

“In Washington, while other politicians just yelled and hogged the cameras, Gary Peters just went to work, as always: improving veterans’ healthcare for men and women, and job training for returning vets,” he states.

Opra closes the ad by thanking Peters for “having the backs of Michigan veterans like me. On November 4th, we’ll have yours.”

The national group is spending another $180,000 on an ad titled “Served” to support Takai, an Army veteran running for the seat vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D).

Takai handily won the Democratic primary in August, beating state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, even though he was outspent in the race. VoteVets spent $100,000 in TV advertising during the primary to help put Takai over the top.

The commercial features footage of Takai with his family, in the military, and at work in the Aloha State.

“Mark has served Hawaii both overseas and at home. Mark Takai has fought to give our veterans the care they deserve,” an announcer says. 

Takai has also “brought millions of dollars of education funds to Hawaii, and will fight to make sure that women get equal pay for equal work,” the announcer adds.

The ad urges voters to back Takai and “show Washington, D.C., that Hawaii knows what service is all about.”