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Republicans, on the verge of losing the Senate, are plowing a mammoth $25 million into seven races in a last-ditch attempt to stop Donald Trump from dragging the entire GOP down with him.
The investment from Senate Leadership Fund, a powerful super PAC with ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, comes as Democrats shift resources from Hillary Clinton’s now almost certain victory to down-ballot contests in hopes of delivering her a congressional majority.
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In an interview on Tuesday afternoon, Steven Law, Senate Leadership Fund’s president and a close McConnell ally, acknowledged Republicans have a tough road to keep their majority – and said the spending push was designed to close a growing funding deficit. In numerous Senate battles, Democrats are outspending Republicans by millions of dollars.
“Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen every liberal Democratic group descend on these races,” Law said. “Democrats feel like the presidential race is in the bag for them and are looking for fresh game in the Senate.”
With just two weeks to go until Election Day, the Democratic cash advantage, Law said, was starting to have an effect, hurting Republican prospects across the board. He said the $25 million expenditure would narrow the GOP deficit, but wouldn’t erase it. He also said he expected to make additional investments in the days to come, but declined to provide further details.
In an indication of the challenge confronting Republicans, nearly all of Senate Leadership Fund’s spending, which stretches from Oct. 19 until Nov. 8, will come in defense of GOP-held seats.
The group’s biggest expenditure will be in Nevada, where it will spend around $7.5 million. That contest is razor thin, and Republicans have grown concerned that their candidate, Joe Heck, has lost ground after withdrawing his support for Donald Trump.
It will invest over $5 million in Pennsylvania, where GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is facing a tough reelection fight, and $4 million in Indiana, where Republicans are trying to halt a comeback bid by former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.
Other purchases will come in North Carolina, where it will book over $3 million in TV airtime, and in New Hampshire and Missouri, where it will reserve over $2 million apiece.
Buying commercial time at this late a stage in an election year does not come cheap. With so many candidates and political groups looking to invest, ad rates are expensive. “This isn’t a cheap date,” Law said.
Republicans have been heavily reliant on Senate Leadership Fund and two partnered groups, One Nation and Granite State Solutions. The trio of organizations have done the bulk of pro-GOP spending in Senate races over the course of the cycle, spending around $165 million. The Koch network and the Chamber of Commerce, two powerful GOP allies, are spending relatively little on TV ads during the final stretch and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which invested heavily early on in the campaign, now finds itself short of cash.
Law declined to specify which donors provided the $25 million, but said it came from a broad array of contributors. In recent days, McConnell, alarmed by the prospect of losing control of the Senate, has been looking to gin up support from his considerable donor network.
Republican strategist Karl Rove, who is involved with Senate Leadership Fund, also assisted in the effort to raise the $25 million. The former George W. Bush advisor has been spending time in the super PAC’s offices as of late.
The group’s financial backers, Law said, understood that “we’re going to take casualties but that we’re going to go out guns blazing.”