Senate GOP re-election arm kickstarts midterm ad wars with massive buys in key races

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As it aims to win back the Senate majority in November’s midterm elections, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is going up earlier than ever before and spending big bucks to run ads in the key general election battleground states.

The independent expenditure wing of the NRSC, the Senate GOP’s re-election arm, is spending more than $50 million to make ad reservations for Senate races in the key battleground states, Fox News confirmed on Thursday. That’s over $15 million more than the rival Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has said it’s spending so far to reserve ad time.

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And the ads are rolling out earlier than ever, with spots going up starting Friday in Arizona, where Republicans are heavily targeting first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, and North Carolina, where GOP Sen. Richard Burr is retiring and Republicans are defending an open seat.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Feb. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Newsroom)

Overall, the NRSC is spending $9.5 million to reserve or buy time in Georgia, where they’re targeting first-term Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock; $9 million in Wisconsin, where Democrats view GOP Sen. Ron Johnson as vulnerable as he runs for re-election; $9 million in New Hampshire, where Republicans are taking aim at first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan; $8 million in Arizona; $8 million in Pennsylvania, where GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s retiring and Republicans are defending another open seat; $6.5 million in North Carolina; and $3 million in Nevada, where the GOP views first-term Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto as vulnerable.

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The committee says it’s also spending $2.6 million in Wisconsin to jointly fund ads with the Johnson campaign.

The NRSC’s ferocious fundraising – it’s outraised its Democratic counterpart so far this cycle – is a key factor behind the massive ad reservation.

"The NRSC Independent Expenditure arm has reserved the largest amount of ad time than any election cycle before and will start spending earlier than ever before to make sure we define these radical Democrats and send them packing in November," NRSC executive director Jackie Schultz Zeckman highlighted.

"We’ve broken every fundraising record in the books so far this cycle and now we have the resources to show the American people that these radical Democrats have stood with Joe Biden 100% and supported his agenda that’s caused rampant crime, inflation to skyrocket, gas prices to rise and created a crisis at our southern border," she argued.

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The new ad reservation comes on top of the more than $3 million the NRSC’s already spent to run spots in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. 

DSCC spokesperson Nora Keefe, responding to the NRSC ad reservations, charged in a statement to Fox News that "Senate Republicans are panicking because their roster of flawed candidates – coupled with their unpopular agenda of tax hikes, ending Social Security and Medicare and criminalizing abortion – will lead their campaigns to defeat in November. When voters learn about these Republicans, they’ll see why they have no place in the U.S. Senate." 

Republicans lost the Senate majority when they were swept in the twin Senate runoff elections in Georgia in January 2021. But they only need a net gain of one seat in the 100-member chamber to win back control. 

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The NRSC and the DSCC – as well as the parties’ top Senate super PACs, the GOP leader Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, and the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC – are expected to increase their ad buys over the summer. But the initial reservations allow the groups to enjoy lower ad rates before they increase closer to Election Day. And they’re a key indicator of which races the parties deem most important.

The NRSC’s ad reservation was first reported on Thursday by Politico.

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