August 31, 2016
Crossing the aisle, working with both parties, independent, bipartisan — these are the catch phrases being featured in a number of ads by candidates and outside groups as Republicans battle to keep their majority in the U.S. Senate.
These campaigns include Pennsylvania, where Sen. Pat Toomey, is running a tight race against Democrat Katie McGinty; New Hampshire, where Sen. Kelly Ayotte has been losing ground to Maggie Hassan; and Florida, where former GOP presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio won his party’s nomination for the Senate seat on Tuesday. With polling numbers favoring Democrat Hillary Clinton in her race against Donald Trump for the presidency, strategists have been worried that Senate candidates vying for seats in swing states are vulnerable to defeat. They’ve been trying to distance themselves — and touting bipartisanship is one way of doing that.
Independence USA, the super PAC founded and funded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been running two ads supporting Toomey that together have run more than 170 times in the Philadelphia area — and counting. This one praises Toomey for crossing party lines twice, to support background checks before gun purchases and to prohibit gun sales to suspects on the terrorist watch list.
PolitiFact rates the latter claim as “Mostly False.” The measure to stop gun sales never passed, and Toomey’s own bill “failed to garner significant support from either side of the aisle.” The amendment he voted for that had bipartisanship support was drafted by a Republican, not a Democrat.
The other ad features Erica Smegielski, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, appears in this ad, praising Toomey for crossing party lines to “do the right thing.”
After this ad started airing in early August, Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC that supports Democrats, countered with an ad contrasting the records of McGinty with Toomey on guns — noting Toomey had opposed a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips, and including footage of the senator at an event where he talks about his “perfect record with the NRA.”
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, Ayotte has been running this ad in the Boston market, which reaches New Hampshire, airing more than 165 times. In the ad, she says, “I don’t assume one party has all the answers,” and talks about crossing party lines on environmental issues. Her opponent, Hassan, the current governor of New Hampshire, meanwhile has run this ad, accusing Ayotte of smearing her and pointing out that she, too, works “across the aisle” to get things done.
In Florida, Rubio highlights his record in advocating for veterans in this ad, passing “bipartisan legislation allowing the VA to fire negligent workers.” PolitiFact Florida has rated this claim as “Mostly True,” noting “[T]his fairly accurate, with the one caveat being that his legislation was included in a larger bill, and passed as law with other reforms to the VA system.” The ad has run more than 135 times in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market.
In Colorado, Bennet, who is running for reelection in Colorado against Republican Darryl Glenn, has been running ads emphasizing his work with Republicans. In June, The Cook Political Report changed its rating of this race from “lean Democrat” to “likely Democrat” in this state that has has a large contingent of independent voters. This ad ad, which highlights his work on the farm bill, has run more than 220 times in the Denver market. “We don’t always agree, but he values our input,” says the corn farmer, John Harold.
To see all ads tagged “bipartisanship” in the 2016 elections, click here.