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
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The House voted down the otherwise uncontroversial Energy and Water appropriations bill Thursday after Democrats succeeded in attaching an amendment affirming LGBT job discrimination protections for military contractors. More than 40 Republicans supported the amendment, but when it came to vote on the bill, 130 Republicans joined all but six Democrats to sink the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan said Democrats voting against the bill after securing the amendment shows their intention was to scuttle the process. Democrats, however, blamed other so-called poison-pill amendments for their votes against the bill. Nonetheless, Ryan said he intends to continue the appropriations process.
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Airport screening delays have caused more than 70,000 American Airlines customers and 40,000 checked bags to miss their flights this year, an executive for the airline told a U.S. congressional subcommittee on Thursday. A shortage of staff and a surge in air travelers have created a nightmare scenario for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with airport wait times in places like Chicago stretching beyond two hours."
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."