Who’s In Charge Here?

Commanding attention: David and Charles Koch
National Journal
Scott Bland
See more stories about...
Scott Bland
March 18, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

There wasn’t much doubt about this be­fore­hand, but this week’s polit­ic­al ad­vert­ising news con­firms how Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity has taken con­trol of the Sen­ate and House land­scapes. All over the coun­try, Demo­crats have been forced to re­act to the well-fun­ded non­profit’s moves, which even have some Re­pub­lic­ans guess­ing.

— AFP’s perch in the driver’s seat has been es­pe­cially clear of late. AFP doubled its spend­ing against Sen. Mark Pry­or (D-AR) last week with a $700,000 buy, at which point the Demo­crat­ic out­side group Pat­ri­ot Ma­jor­ity jumped in again versus Rep. Tom Cot­ton (R-AR). Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s (D-LA) strik­ing de­cision to drop $2.6 mil­lion on TV in the spring about equaled what AFP had pre­vi­ously spent against her. (The group then upped its in­vest­ment.) And Sen. Mark Be­gich (D-AK) took dir­ect aim at AFP and the Koch broth­ers in his first TV ad AFP also fired the first (mil­lion-dol­lar) salvo in Col­or­ado this week.

— It’s not just the Sen­ate land­scape, either. House-fo­cused Demo­crats are play­ing de­fense against AFP more than any­thing else right now. After spend­ing 2013 pok­ing at po­ten­tially vul­nerbale GOP in­cum­bents like Mike Coff­man, Joe Heck, and Steve South­er­land, some­times draw­ing an AFP re­sponse, House Ma­jor­ity PAC has spent 2014 chas­ing AFP in­to Ari­zona, Flor­ida, and West Vir­gin­ia to mit­ig­ate dam­age from at­tacks against Demo­crat­ic law­makers. In Rep. Nick Ra­hall‘s WV-03, an­oth­er Koch-con­nec­ted group’s ads on coal have also ser­i­ously dam­aged the long­time in­cum­bent.

— AFP’s in­di­vidu­al ad buys have oc­ca­sion­ally puzzled Re­pub­lic­an strategists eye­ing the House, too, with a few won­der­ing where the group was dur­ing the FL-13 spe­cial elec­tion. But they’re happy with the res­ults: Some Dems are tak­ing dam­age, and it’s for­cing them to spend re­sources now.

The usu­al sus­pects — the party com­mit­tees, Cross­roads, etc. — have barely got­ten in­volved in in­de­pend­ent ex­pendit­ures yet, and things may change as the elec­tion draws near­er and more ad­vert­ising comes on­line. But for now, AFP ap­pears to be in charge.
— Scott Bland

What We're Following See More »
How Many VIPs Were the Secret Service Protecting in Philly Last Night?
33 minutes ago

Seven, according to an official Secret Service tweet.

Candidates’ Code Names Revealed
1 hours ago

The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."

GSA: Feds’ Uber Rides Are Now OK
1 hours ago

"The Obama administration issued guidance on Wednesday clarifying federal agencies should reimburse employees who use ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft for any travel on official business, effective immediately. The General Services Administration issued a bulletin on the Federal Travel Regulation, cementing a policy many—but not all—agencies had already installed."

Catholics, Highly Educated Moving Toward Dems
2 hours ago

Catholics who attend mass at least weekly have increased their support of the Democratic nominee by 22 points, relative to 2012, when devout Catholics backed Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows that those voters with advanced degrees prefer Hillary Clinton, 51%-34%. Which, we suppose, makes the ideal Clinton voter a Catholic with a PhD in divinity.

North Korea: U.S. Has Effectively Declared War
2 hours ago

"North Korea's top diplomat for U.S. affairs told The Associated Press on Thursday that Washington ... effectively declared war by putting leader Kim Jong Un on its list of sanctioned individuals, and said a vicious showdown could erupt if the U.S. and South Korea hold annual war games as planned next month." Han Song Ryol said: "The United States has crossed the red line in our showdown. We regard this thrice-cursed crime as a declaration of war."