A liberal super PAC set up to help Democrats take back the Senate will spend $700,000 on a new ad to attack Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, sending another signal that Democrats are expanding the map to compete in even deep-red states as they try to flip the Senate in 2020.
Senate Majority PAC told CNN it will begin airing the 30-second television ad in Montana on Saturday, alleging that Daines cares more about corporations than his constituents during the coronavirus pandemic. Daines faces Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who won reelection in 2016 even as Donald Trump swept the state by more than 20 points.
The ad begins with a narrator saying, "maybe you're worried about your job or where your retirement went after the crash," before claiming that "Daines worries about corporate profits instead."
"Daines gave trillions in tax breaks to big corporations but pushed cuts to Medicare, opposed emergency paid sick leave, and even tried to limit unemployment benefits for those thrown out of work by the coronavirus," adds the narrator. "Maybe it's time for a senator who worries about you."
In March, Daines voted for a Republican amendment to the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act that failed to pass that would've removed a paid sick leave provision and required the federal government to instead reimburse certain employers who voluntarily provided it. The senator then voted for the bill, which expanded paid sick leave, although not as far as some Democrats wanted.
Daines also supported another failed GOP amendment on another bill that aimed to cap its additional unemployment benefits so that individuals would not receive compensation greater than their prior wages. But he supported the legislation known as the CARES Act, which provided the largest economic stimulus in US history.
The ad is a clear attempt to try to undermine the senator's work for his state during the crisis. “These types of outright lies and distortions will fall flat here because the only person in Montana persuaded to do anything by Chuck Schumer is Steve Bullock. The question to ask here is: Will Steve Bullock denounce and demand this type of SuperPAC spending end given his alleged distaste for this money, or will he allow it to run rampant now that it’s benefiting his campaign?” said Julia Doyle, Daines campaign spokesperson.
Republicans are worried that their incumbent senators are not getting the recognition they deserve for backing emergency rescue legislation to prop up the faltering economy, including hundreds of billions of dollars for small businesses, hospitals, workers and the unemployed. Daines' office notes that he has secured millions in aid for Montana's airports, state schools, health care providers and vaccine development, as well as personal protective equipment for health care workers and forgivable loans to small businesses.
Instead, their governors are generally receiving the lion's share of the credit for implementing the states' response. In Montana, Gov. Bullock has received praise from the editorial board of the Billings Gazette, the state's largest newspaper, for his work balancing the economic and health care priorities of the state.
"Steve Daines has a long track record of putting the interests of big corporations and the wealthy ahead of Montana workers, and Montanans deserve to know exactly who he's fighting for in Washington," said Senate Majority PAC spokesperson Matt Corridoni.
Democrats need to defeat four Republicans -- or three if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the White House -- to flip the Senate. While the Democrats only have one very tough Senate seat to protect in Alabama, Republican incumbents in Maine, Colorado, North Carolina and Arizona face difficult reelection races. And in recent months, Democrats have made strong bids in red states like Montana, Iowa, Georgia and even Kansas. In the first quarter of the year, Republicans in seven Senate races -- including Daines -- were outraised by their Democratic challengers.