A liberal political action committee has launched a six-figure television ad campaign against Republican Sen. Susan Collins in the first major attack ad of Maine’s Senate race.
Democracy for America, which was started by former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean, plans to spend $300,000 on ads running statewide over the next two weeks. The two 60-second ads accuse Collins of favoring the wealthy over working-class Americans by supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, opposing a $10.10 minimum wage and blocking Wall Street reform efforts.
“Susan Collins caved in to Mitch McConnell and the tea party . . . helping billionaires and big corporations,” say two unidentified speakers in the ad.
One of the two ads also praises Collins’ Democratic challenger, Shenna Bellows. The former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Bellows has painted herself as better suited than Collins to representing middle/working-class Mainers and women – the same groups targeted by the Democracy for America ads.
You can find the other ad here.
Federal campaign spending rules prohibit Democracy for America – or other groups making independent expenditures – from coordinating with the Bellows camp on the ads. But the Collins campaign pointed out that Bellows credited the PAC – as well as other liberal and progressive advocacy groups – with helping her raise money via crowd-sourcing in order to begin airing her own TV ads early in the campaign season.
“Desperation has set in with the Bellows campaign,” Collins’ campaign spokesman, Lance Dutson, said in an email to media. “Last week, they released an internal poll showing her losing by 24%, and garnering the support of only 64% of Democrats. Yesterday, the Maine Democratic Party sent a tracker to watch Senator Collins and dozens of her supporters eat ice cream at Gifford’s Ice Cream stand in Skowhegan. And today, Shenna’s allies began running negative ads designed to attract the support of Democrats.”
The internal poll that Dutson referred to shows Collins leading Bellows 57 percent to 33 percent – a wide margin but considerably slimmer than the 55 point spread separating the candidates in a June poll commissioned from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center by the Portland Press Herald.
The Bellows campaign’s internal polling – conducted by Public Policy Polling, or PPP – suggests that Bellows is gaining traction with Democrats in Maine. If true, that would be a welcome shift for Bellows because previous polls, including the Press Herald survey, showed her struggling to pick up Democratic support against a popular incumbent consistently ranked as one of the Senate’s more moderate Republicans.