American Crossroads is about to get involved in another Republican primary, this one for an upstate New York congressional district the party hopes to flip in November. And this time, the GOP super PAC is going negative against a fellow Republican, something the group hasn’t done in other primaries this election year.
Crossroads will begin airing TV ads in the House district Tuesday, according to an advertising schedule filed with the CBS affiliate in Burlington, Vt. The form, accessed through the Sunlight Foundation’s “Political Ad Sleuth” tracking tool, also lists the purpose of the ad: “Matt Doheny NY-21 Congressional; Why he is unfit for Congress.”
Doheny is making his fourth run for the closely divided 21st District, where Democratic Rep. Bill Owens is retiring. But former George W. Bush administration official Elise Stefanik’s campaign has drawn significant Republican support this year in one of her party’s top pickup opportunities in the House of Representatives.
Doheny has a poor track record as a candidate: He lost to Owens in 2010 and 2012, and in 2009, he lost the Republican nomination for a special election in the district. (He also faced some personal scandal in his last campaign.) Mitt Romney touted Stefanik’s business experience in an endorsement last week, and a group of Republicans who want their party to elect more women have thrown support behind the 29-year-old this year, too. Now, Crossroads is joining them ahead of New York’s June 24 primary.
Crossroads has gotten involved in two other Republican primary contests so far this year, the Senate races in Alaska and North Carolina, with similar purpose: to back candidates who it believed gave the GOP a better chance of winning a battleground general election. But in both instances, the super PAC eschewed the negative advertising usually favored by outside groups and only aired positive TV ads supporting two candidates, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan and North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis. Tillis won his party’s nomination in May.
One of Stefanik’s biggest financial supporters — and also a fan of Sullivan and Tillis — is one of American Crossroads’ major donors, New York hedge-fund manager Paul Singer. Singer has given the maximum amount of money allowed by law to Stefanik’s campaign, and a political committee financed largely by Singer and other employees of his firm directed over $110,000 in additional funds to Stefanik in the first three months of 2014. Stefanik and a handful of other congressional candidates also appeared at a donor meeting in Aspen, Colo., that Singer held over the winter, according to The New York Times.
Sullivan and Tillis have both received campaign money from another fundraising committee sponsored by Singer and a similar group of donors. Singer gave $250,000 to American Crossroads in March, according to federal campaign finance records.
The total cost of the upcoming Crossroads TV investment in New York’s 21st District is $240,000, according to a source with knowledge of the ad buy.
Crossroads communications director Paul Lindsay declined to comment.