Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

The Most Expensive Senate Race of the Cycle — So Far

“Since some of these candidates aren’t that well known, it is important that voters know where they stand on these issues, so they can’t hide from their records,” Matsdorf said.

In Kentucky, where McConnell is the top target of national Democrats, GOP-aligned groups have spent $2.3 million to $1.2 million from Democrats. That doesn’t include the $700,000 spent by Senate Conservatives Fund, which is backing McConnell’s primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin.

Senate Majority PAC launched on Dec. 13 a quarter-million-dollar buy in support of Landrieu in the Bayou State. Before that, Republicans had outpaced Democrats in the state by about $1.75 million to $320,000.

As Landrieu distanced herself from the president on Obamacare in her latest spot, the super PAC ad directly targeted Cassidy, Landrieu’s top opponent, on Medicare and the government shutdown. The group’s recent ad in North Carolina defended Hagan on health care and took aim at Tillis.


In Arkansas, Pryor has seen about $1.8 million spent against him, though a sizable chunk of that came from the Michael Blooomberg-founded group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Democrat-aligned groups have spent about $450,000.

A fifth state likely to see TV ads for the next year is Alaska. A super PAC set up to defend Democratic Sen. Mark Begich has already placed a $100,000 ad buy to defend the incumbent from outside group attacks.

Its ad mocked an Americans for Prosperity spot that had slammed Begich on the issue of Obamacare, noting that the woman featured in it was an actress from the East Coast.

“Honestly we weren’t planning to come out this early,” Jim Lottsfeldt, treasurer of the pro-Begich super PAC, told Alaska Public Radio Network. “But it’s clear in 2014 politics across the nation, the Koch brothers are on the attack and we thought it was smart to start our defense sooner rather than later.”

Outside groups aren’t the only ones on the air, as Pryor, Landrieu and McConnell have all aired their own TV ads. McConnell’s first spot came in mid-March, and he’s topped $1 million in media spending already.

Pryor, widely considered the most vulnerable Democrat up this cycle, has spent well more than $800,000 on ads, including his most recent spot that highlighted the importance of the Bible in his life. That’s at least $500,000 more than Cotton, who recently featured his mother in an ad.

That’s one reason Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., leadership PAC ran its own independent expenditure TV ad this month in support of Cotton.

“Normally we wouldn’t go in this early,” said Terry Sullivan, director of Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC. “But he’s getting outspent dramatically, so we wanted to come in and help him.”

There has been outside spending in several other states, including West Virginia and Montana — two of Democrats’ most vulnerable open seats. As the landscape inevitably shifts over the next six months, spending will undoubtedly pick up in other states as well.

  • Pro_bono_publico

    The Democrats are desperate to hold onto Kay Hagan’s North Carolina seat in the U.S. Senate. Her election validated the time, effort and money that the national Democrat Party put into making inroads in the South generally, and North Carolina in particular. If she loses, after the massive repudiation of the Democrats at the state level, it calls into question their entire Southern strategy.

  • southerndemnut

    That is quite an overstatement and oversimplification but not entirely without merit. Hagan benefited from the impressive GOTV effort by Obama and the Democrats in 2008, the likes I have not seen in the state since Jimmy Carter ran in 1976. With that said, NC is not entirely Republican leaning unlike many other Southern states. The GOP is unpopular in the state on the local level due to the shenanigans of the Governor and legislature so you have two cross winds going on there. On the Federal level, North Carolina is a few election cycles behind Virginia but still generally considered a “purple” state. Hagan’s two principle opponents are A) Thom Tillis – speaker of the House that has almost as bad an approval rating as the US House; B) Rev. Mark Harris who will ignite the social conservatives but turn off a lot of independent and non-social conservatives. So while there might be some that will pull the R lever just to spite Obama, the GOP will also be fighting the unpopularity of the brand locally and the relative weakness of the individual candidates.

  • Scientist5

    I am hoping and praying that the GOP does not organize a circular firing squad. If it does we can kiss our American way of life goodbye – the Demos will win in 2014 and 2016. I hope copmmonsense wil prevail and EXCELLENT GOP candidates will enter the race. Let’s not eat our own!

  • cooldela1966

    Kay will win in NC because of her support for abortion, gun control, homosexual marriage, Obamacare and a larger Federal government. She is right in line with the thinking of North Carolina.

  • UnaffiliatedVoter

    If her record weren’t so DISpleasing, Hagan wouldn’t need to be wasting so much money on a dismal reelection attempt …

  • UnaffiliatedVoter

    Dr. Greg Brannon is the frontrunner. Tillis and Harris won’t make it…

  • debbie

    Dr. Greg Brannon would be a welcome addition to the US Senate. Hope N.C. elects him after Hagan’s betrayal.

  • teapartyidiots

    It’ll be Kentucky in the end.

  • teapartyidiots

    HAAHAHA. Brannon is the prime candidate to Akin himself.

  • JulianG3

    Don’t count out LA. Mary Landrieu of “Louisiana Purchase” fame is the new Chair of the Energy Committee, certain to draw in lots of cash and attention on both sides.

  • teapartyidiots

    True. But between the Dem obsession with getting rid of McConnell – and the absolute monetary disaster the GOP primary is shaping up to be – this should be the winner.

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