Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released the first television ad of his reelection campaign on Wednesday, 20 months before Election Day, responding to attacks by "far-left special interests."
The ad, which begins airing tomorrow in the Lexington and Louisville markets, features McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, rather than the senator himself. Chao's presence could help appeal to women voters, who will be key in a race where the Democratic candidate is likely to be female -- both actress Ashley Judd and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes have been mentioned as potential contenders on the Democratic side.
"You've seen the ads attacking my husband," Chao says, referencing several television ads launched by outside groups, including the Progressive Campaign Change Committee and a coalition of labor unions, in recent weeks targeting McConnell. The early onslaught of ads and response by McConnell -- who is the first candidate to release a television spot for a 2014 race -- signal a long, contentious and expensive election ahead.
The ad goes on to highlight McConnell's love of Kentucky, a potential reminder of Judd's current residency in Tennessee, which has been the subject of several attacks by the NRSC, as well as by McConnell's own campaign.
Chao also references attacks by the low-budget super PAC Progress Kentucky, which drew criticism last month after a volunteer for the organization tweeted: "This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she's his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!"
The group has been working since January to draft a candidate from any party to take down McConnell in 2014, but raised just over $1,000 in December of last year, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
McConnell's campaign said that the ad buy was in the "six-figure" range, but declined to comment further.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that McConnell's campaign did not comment on the size of the ad buy entirely.