DC-Based Group Spends Big on Strickland

Harry Reid Super PAC places $650K ad buy against Republican opponent in Senate race

Ted Strickland
Ted Strickland / AP
March 30, 2016

Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio who has railed against dark money and outside group spending in elections, is now benefiting from hundreds of thousands of Super PAC dollars spent on ads to attack his opponent.

The Senate Majority PAC, affiliated with outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), spent over $650,000 on television advertisements in Ohio last week that attack incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R.), whom Strickland is campaigning to unseat, Federal Election Commission records show. The advertisements, which slam Portman for "bad trade policies," began running on broadcast and cable television networks last Tuesday.

This represents the Senate Majority PAC’s first significant investment in the Ohio Senate race. The Super PAC connected with the Democratic senator also launched a digital advertisement campaign attacking Portman earlier this year as part of a $1.5 million national campaign to prop up Democrats.

Reid’s leadership PAC, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, has also contributed $10,000 to Strickland’s campaign.

The infusion of big-money attacks ads into the race will aide Strickland, whose campaign has repeatedly railed against the involvement of dark money and Washington special interests in the election. Strickland for Senate has sent a slew of emails attempting to fundraise off of anti-Strickland advertisements purchased by Republican donors like the Koch brothers and "all their dark money friends."

"Despite this new dark money attack … Ted REFUSES to rely on the billionaire class to fund his campaign," a fundraising email sent to supporters Monday declared. "Ohio—and this country—needs a passionate and proven champion for the middle class. Not someone who relies on dark money to fund his reelection."

The campaign has long relied on such lines of attack. Earlier this month, Strickland campaign spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement, "Washington power brokers and wealthy, shadowy special interests are spending millions to prop up Sen. Rob Portman because he’s pushing their agenda at the expense of Ohio’s working families."

Strickland’s campaign netted over $224,000 from donors in the Washington, D.C., area last year, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported.

A spokesman for the Strickland campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The Senate Majority PAC has already spent over $3 million on the 2016 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. Most of the cash has funded advertisements targeting Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), who faces a challenge from Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Reid’s involvement in the 2016 Senate races could be complicated by a new report alleging that the Nevada senator urged a Muslim Democrat to end his congressional bid because a "Muslim cannot win this race."