The Koch-funded astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), has launched a $3 million dollar ad buy in U.S. Senate races across the country, and is spending more than $400,000 on ads attacking Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Baldwin is running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Herb Kohl. As a non-profit organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, AFP is not required to disclose their spending or funding, but in this case AFP Wisconsin issued a press release announcing the amount of its ad buy.
The AFP ad, called "A New Day," opens with an image from the historic labor protests in Madison in February of 2011. Apparently referencing Governor Scott Walker's victory in his June 5 recall election, the ad's narrator says, "After a year of struggle, Wisconsin has a message for politicians in Washington: stop the wasteful spending that's bankrupting our future, balance the budget, [and] protect hardworking taxpayers." The ad goes on to attack Baldwin for supporting Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's agenda "93% of the time." Again apparently referencing Walker's victory (and hearkening back to Ronald Reagan's classic "Morning in America" ads), the ad says, "Its a new day in Wisconsin and Wisconsin is moving forward. Tell Tammy Baldwin, hard-working taxpayers can't afford more wasteful spending."
Baldwin is the uncontested Democratic candidate for Kohl's seat. Three seasoned politicians and one businessman are vying for the Republican nomination. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson is currently in the lead, but he is being challenged by three more conservative Republicans: Wisconsin State Representative and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, former U.S. Representative Mark Neumann, and wealthy hedge fund manager Eric Hovde. The Republican primary is scheduled for August 14, 2012.
AFP's ad buy marks a new intensive phase of the election which has been drowned out by Wisconsin's June 5 recall elections. Also up on Wisconsin airwaves are new Baldwin, Thompson, and Hovde campaign ads.
AFP spent more than $10 million in Wisconsin related to the June 5 recalls, outspending the Democratic candidate Tom Barrett over 2:1. The early ad signals that AFP is once again planning on spending a lot of money to frame the issues in this race in a manner that benefits out-of-state monied interests.