• AR-Sen: Well, this is different: A vulnerable red state Democrat is running an ad in support of Obamacare! Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor's spot is running for a "six figure buy" and features his father, former Gov. and Sen. David Pryor. The elder Pryor describes how Mark almost died of cancer: While he pulled through, the family ran into problems after the insurance company didn't want to pay for the life-saving procedure. Sen. Pryor then declares, "No one should be fighting an insurance company while you're fighting for your life. That's why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions." While the ad doesn't say that this law is Obamacare, Pryor is clearly taking the most popular parts of the bill and running on them.
Pryor's spot comes at an interesting time in the campaign season. A piece in Bloomberg describes something we've been seeing in our ad roundups: Republicans are using Obamacare far less in their campaign commercials than they were a few months ago. Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View helps explain why: Health care as a campaign issue is becoming far less important to voters, likely as memories of the Obamacare launch fade.
Bernstein also describes how Republicans are in a more awkward position when it comes to the law than they used to be. In 2010 and 2012 before the major parts of the program kicked in, it was easy for Team Red to call for its full repeal. However, it's becoming clear to voters and to Republican politicians that Obamacare is here to stay. While the GOP may hit Democrats for voting for it in the first place and attack some of the more unpopular aspects of the bill, they can't convincingly argue that they'll just repeal the program and be done with it. Republicans in tough races are having to take more nuanced positions; as Bernstein puts it, "They still almost all say they support repeal, but they weasel around the idea that various ACA programs and benefits will be included in that supposed repeal."
By no means is Obamacare dead as an issue. In just the last few days Crossroads GPS ran ads against Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado and CA-07 Rep. Ami Bera completely focused on Obamacare. Pryor's Republican rival, Rep. Tom Cotton, has also been hitting him on the bill. Still, it's becoming apparent that this cycle will not be a straight-up referendum on Obamacare that some people may have predicted just a few months ago. Ads like Pryor's are also a sign that while red state Democrats may still be unwilling to outright express support for the program, they are finding ways to turn it into a positive.
Follow below the fold for more ads.
• AK-Sen: That didn't take long. Put Alaska First hits newly minted Republican nominee Dan Sullivan, describing him as someone who supports a mine that would hurt fishermen. The group is spending $490,000 here.
• AR-Sen: The NRSC is up with a new negative spot against Democratic Sen.. Mark Pryor. Republican Rep. Tom Cotton also has two new ads (here and here) hitting Pryor on the retirement age and immigration.
• FL-Gov: We've always wondered: Has a major American political campaign ever run a campaign ad in a language other than English or Spanish? We're not sure if anyone's run a TV ad like this yet, but Republican Gov. Rick Scott has a minute-long radio ad in Creole. As the Miami Herald points out, there aren't too many Creole-speaking voters in the state; the largest community is around Miami and is heavily Democratic. However, Scott certainly has the money to target this small group of persuadable voters in what is expected to be a tight race.
• OK-Gov: Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman has released his first ad of the campaign, and he goes right at one of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin's sorest spots: education. Dorman narrates the ad and bluntly says that Fallin has "flip-flopped and failed on education," while showing a still photo of a large demonstration at the state capital with the caption, "30,000 Oklahomans protest Fallin's policies." The "flip-flop" refers to Fallin's about-face on Common Core, which she strongly supported before signing a bill to repeal the standards earlier this year. Fallin's insufficient hostility to the program angered conservatives, and Dorman is no doubt trying to stir up those feelings—a smart move, because he'll need plenty of GOP votes to have a prayer.
The ad comes at an interesting time in the race. Fallin has recently seen some surprisingly weak poll numbers, and now her fundraising's looking soft, too: Between June 25 and Aug. 14, Dorman managed to outraise her, $267,000 to $240,000. Fallin still has far more cash on hand, $1.1 million to $142,000, but she's outspent Dorman more than 3-to-1 in a race that ought to be a dead lock for the GOP yet somehow isn't quite looking that way. (David Nir)
• RI-Gov: Say what you will about Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo, but her ads remain very good. Raimondo has a spot full of nostalgic snippets of Narragansett Beer commercials, before describing how she helped bring the local company back to Rhode Island and created over 1,000 jobs. She then uses it to pivot to her broader jobs plan.
On the Republican side, Ken Block calls for ending wasteful practices and spending in state government. At the end the ad features Block throwing state time sheets on the ground in slow motion, which doesn't look strange at all.
• AZ-01: Andy Tobin was supposed to be one of the top Republican House recruits this cycle. As the speaker of Arizona's state House, he had a prominent position from which to launch a campaign against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress, given that her district voted for Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin.
But Tobin's long struggled just to keep his head above water in the GOP primary, despite the fact that one of his opponents is a first-time candidate who claimed that Democrats perpetrated "99 percent" of mass shootings and the other is a freshman legislator who thought that a bus of YMCA campers that drove alongside an anti-immigration protest was actually full of undocumented child immigrants.
Yet both of those contenders—wealthy rancher Gary Kiehne and state Rep. Adam Kwasman—have been on the air for some time, while Tobin, whose fundraising has been lousy, amazingly didn't have any ads on TV until this week. Actually, Tobin still isn't running any ads of his own. Rather, he's relying on some very generic spots from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a super PAC called Preserve America's Future (which is spending just $25,000). The primary is Tuesday!
Tobin may still somehow pull it off, though, if a new independent poll from Remington Research is on the mark. Tobin barely edges Kwasman, 30-29, with Kiehne at 21, so he's not out of it, but that's hardly the kind of place a one-time frontrunner wants to find himself in. We also don't have any other polling here, so it's very possible that the race has been breaking against Tobin for a while now. If so, then this may just be a high-water mark for him, something that would make Democrats quite happy indeed.
Kirkpatrick herself is up with a radio ad that is largely in Navajo. Unlike the Rick Scott Creole language radio ad (see above), Kirkpatrick herself is doing the talking here. The district has a large Navajo voting block. (David Nir & Jeff Singer)
• IN-02: Democrat Joe Bock is up with his first spot in what looks like a very uphill climb against Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski. Bock describes his work in crisis zones all around the world, before declaring, "The crisis is here at home," and that he's ready to get to work.
• NH-01: American Unity PAC, a group funded by hedge-fund manager Paul Singer (no relation to me) to help Republican supporters of same-sex marriage, goes up for Republican Dan Innis. The spot hits both Innis' primary rival, former Rep. Frank Guinta, and Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter, before portraying Innis as a better choice.
• NY-11: Democrat Domenic Recchia emphasizes his ties to both parts of the district, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Recchia holds a city council seat in Brooklyn, which is a much smaller presence in the district, and it makes sense that he's trying to establish his Staten Island bona fides. The DCCC is also out with another $106,000 against Republican Rep. Michael Grimm. One group you won't see coming to Grimm's aid anytime soon is his PAC, Grimm PAC: The committee reported raising a monster $0.01 in July.
• Center Forward: Center Forward spends a combined $738,000 in five races, and their choices are a bit unusual. They have TV spots for Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, FL-18 Rep. Patrick Murphy, IL-10 Rep. Brad Schneider, and WV-03 Rep. Nick Rahall, all Democrats in targeted races. However, they also go on the air for Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who is expected to coast to re-election. They also are running an ad for Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who isn't up until 2018.