David Brock Drops Millions Against Trump in Pivotal Swing States

David Brock / Twitter
February 25, 2020

The liberal super PAC American Bridge, led by Media Matters founder David Brock, dropped $4 million into anti-Trump advertisements in swing states as part of a plan to "kick Donald Trump's ass." 

Brock's PAC reported purchasing $2.7 million worth of anti-Trump ads in Pennsylvania, a pivotal 2020 state that Trump carried by less than 1 point in the 2016 election. The PAC pushed another $1.3 million into Wisconsin, which Trump also won by less than 1 point. The expenditures, made between Feb. 19 and Feb. 21, follow $2.2 million the group already poured into Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan in November and December

Democratic power brokers and activists have zeroed in on the region in hopes of chipping away at Trump's support among working-class voters. American Bridge plans to spend $10 million over three months to damage Trump in the Midwest. Brock, however, could be in a difficult position if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), the current frontrunner in the Democratic primaries, wins the party's nomination. The liberal operative has called for a campaign to stop Sanders from clinching the nomination.

"We don't have to win all of these voters back," Sacha Haworth, American Bridge's political director, told Politico about the group's plans to appeal to blue-collar Midwesterners. "We just need to be able to peel off enough of [Trump's] supporters within this swath of voters to deny him the White House in 2020." 

Brock's group last year planned a $50 million campaign to weaken Trump's support in the Midwest using "research, tracking, and rapid response capabilities." The campaign would include a "massive" television, digital, and radio advertisement push to convince voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that Trump was hurting their interests. 

"We're now set to leverage our expertise to launch the largest persuasion media effort we've ever undertaken with the goal of making Trump a one-term president," Bradley Beychok, president of American Bridge, said in a press release at the time. "Donald Trump turned his back on the voters who gave him a lifeline in 2016. We plan to cut it."

Brock mapped out a plan to defeat Trump before the president was even inaugurated. The longtime Clinton ally privately briefed 100 donors at a posh Florida resort in January 2017 on how he would "kick Donald Trump's ass" over the following four years. The liberal operative said he would use a constellation of organizations to release a steady flow of damaging information about the president. The Washington Free Beacon obtained confidential documents from the gathering that showed Brock's plans to push Trump out of office through impeachment or at the ballot box. 

But now, with Sanders's ascent in the Democratic primary, Brock may face a dilemma. In April 2019, he spoke to other Democratic operatives about a potential anti-Sanders campaign if the Vermont senator started to run away with the nomination. 

"There's a growing realization that Sanders could end up winning this thing, or certainly that he stays in so long that he damages the actual winner," Brock said. Such a campaign would need to start "sooner rather than later," he added.

American Bridge did not respond to a request for comment on the Trump campaign or the status of the anti-Sanders campaign. 

Brock's efforts in the Midwest coincide with initiatives from other liberal megadonors and groups. 

Billionaire George Soros and millionaire Scott Wallace—a failed candidate in Pennsylvania's First Congressional District during the 2018 midterm elections—are bankrolling a fund under the control of a massive dark money entity that funneled $600 million to liberal causes in 2018. This initiative, called The Heartland Fund, aims to help Democrats make inroads in the Midwest for 2020.

Future Majority, a D.C.-based Democratic strategy center, was also established to help Democrats focus on Midwestern voters. The group plans to spend at least $60 million to help Democrats "rebrand" themselves in Midwestern states and to support other liberal organizations ahead of the November elections. 

Priorities USA, the largest liberal super PAC, will also devote more than $100 million to the 2020 elections, with much of the total going into Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin.