WASHINGTON — High-dollar donors’ favorite political machine on Tuesday began booking $20 million in television air time for an advertising blitz aimed at tipping six Senate seats into Republican hands.
The Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads super PAC and its affiliated nonprofit Crossroads GPS announced they had sent out ad requests that are a first wave of what is expected to be heavy spending. The groups, which accept unlimited donations and have some of the GOP’s top strategists as advisers, also plan to spend more cash on House campaigns.
The biggest ad booking so far is in Alaska, where American Crossroads plans to spend $5.5 million starting Sept. 9 to make Democratic Sen. Mark Begich’s re-election bid more difficult. Crossroads GPS also plans a $5.1 million ad campaign starting Sept. 30 in North Carolina to criticize Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
American Crossroads, which must disclose its donors, plans a $3.1 million ad campaign in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and $1.7 million in Montana, where appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh is running to stay in the seat.
Crossroads GPS, which does not disclose its donors, plans $2.1 million on negative ads in Louisiana about Sen. Mary Landrieu’s record and $2.5 million in Arkansas against Sen. Mark Pryor. Both are endangered Democrats.
The bookings, which can still be changed, are on top of the $2.3 million in ads Crossroads GPS already is running in Colorado to help Republican hopeful Cory Gardner in his race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.
The ad reservations suggest Crossroads has stepped up its fundraising. American Crossroads ended May with $4.6 million in the bank and has raised a cumulative $11 million since January 2013.
Crossroads GPS does not have to disclose its finances because under campaign finance rules it is considered nonpartisan and nonprofit.
But Republican donors are looking at a Senate map that increasingly gives them optimism — and, thus, reason to open their wallets. Republicans need to pick up six seats to reclaim the majority for the first time since 2006’s elections.
PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press