WASHINGTON — The super PAC focused on helping Democrats win back back a majority of seats in the Senate in 2016 is launching its first major campaign of the cycle, previewing the issues that will likely be at the core of the party's line of attack against Republicans: ties to the Koch brothers and votes on defunding Planned Parenthood.
Senate Majority PAC's $1.5 million campaign will start out with digital ads on Facebook, Twitter and Google against Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. The ads link to a report the group released earlier this week pointing out that the Pennsylvania Republican has voted with "partisan Republicans 93% of the time, and for the Koch Brothers’ special interest agenda 96% of the time, including 100% of the time in 2015," according to a press release. The report also stresses that Toomey voted five times to defund Planned Parenthood.
“The Republican agenda puts special interests and partisan ideology ahead of what’s best for everyday Americans and Pat Toomey is the poster boy for those misplaced priorities,” said Shripal Shah, a spokesman for the super PAC, in a statement.
“While Pat Toomey has been loyally voting for his party’s agenda in Washington these past 5 years, Pennsylvanians have been left behind. Our ad campaign will hold him accountable for putting his party before Pennsylvania.”
Democrats Katie McGinty, who worked for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf; former Rep. Joe Sestak; and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman are vying for the party's nomination to take on Toomey.
Toomey previously told BuzzFeed News he "wasn't worried about Democrats' attacks."
"I think that’s pretty predictable," he said when Democrats began attacking him over his votes on Planned Parenthood.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Steve Kelly, a spokesman for the Toomey campaign said: “The Allentown Morning Call said it well when it wrote, 'Pat Toomey puts principles over party-line obedience'– whether it’s on background checks for gun purchases, job creation, or keeping predators out of schools, Pat is proud of his work across party lines to make our communities safer and our economy stronger. Suggestions to the contrary are nothing but election season political attacks.”
Senate Majority PAC will launch targeted digital ads in other battleground Senate states in the coming months as part of the campaign. Other vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2016 — Rob Portman of Ohio, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — could soon see similar ads against them.
The super PAC, which spent $67 million in the 2014 election cycle, aired TV and digital ads backed by $600,000 opposing Ayotte earlier this year, but the latest effort is its first national campaign of the 2016 cycle.
On the Republican side, outside groups including Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove-affiliated One Nation have already spent millions airing TV ads in New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and North Carolina.