Democrats are spending as Senate race tightens in Wisconsin
WASHINGTON (AP) — A major Democratic Senate campaign committee is pouring $2 million into Wisconsin as the contest for control of the U.S. Senate goes down to the wire.
The investment announced Friday by the Senate Majority PAC comes as a surprise, since former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold has been heavily favored to beat incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson.
Polls have shown the race tightening in recent days, and a spokesman for Senate Majority PAC, Shripal Shah, said the group does not want to take any chances.
The same group is also sending money to an allied campaign committee in Florida to back Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy as he tries to defeat incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. It’s a different scenario in Florida, where national Democrats had all but given up on Murphy, pulling their money and sending it to other races.
The decision to cut Murphy loose prompted grousing from some Democrats and donors in Florida and elsewhere. After canceling $10 million in reserved ad time over the past few weeks, the Senate Majority PAC has now taken another look and is transferring at least $1 million to a Florida-based super PAC backing Murphy. Ashley Walker, who runs Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, said the DC aid, plus other new cash, would largely be used for a media buy.
This close to the election, though, television advertising costs have escalated sharply, particularly since the presidential candidates are blitzing the airwaves there. Democrats could have aired more commercials had they preserved some of the time reserved months ago.
Regardless, Walker said the pro-Murphy group is grateful for the new Senate Majority PAC donation. “Obviously we’re very excited to have their support,” she said. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with them to bring this home.”
The developments come as the contest for control of the Senate is a nail-biter with the Nov. 8 election little more than a week away.
Republicans face losing their majority if Democrats can pick up four seats and keep the White House. A half-dozen races are toss-ups.
With its Democratic tilt in presidential election years, Wisconsin has long been seen as a sure-fire Democratic Senate pickup. Despite the new Democratic spending in the state, it’s not clear that’s going to change. As of now, the top GOP Senate super PAC has not answered back with its own spending in Wisconsin, suggesting a lack of confidence about beating Feingold.
Steven Law, who heads the GOP PAC Senate Leadership Fund, said his group will be taking another look at the Wisconsin race in light of the Democratic spending.
“They’re very concerned about that race tightening, so we need to at least take a look at that race as well, in addition to everything else we’ve got in play,” Law said Friday in an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program.
Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.