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 »
"The Supreme Court is taking up a First Amendment clash over the government’s refusal to register offensive trademarks, a case that could affect the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name. The justices agreed Thursday to hear a dispute involving an Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but they did not act on a separate request to hear the higher-profile Redskins case at the same time." Still, any precedent set by the case could have ramifications for the Washington football team.
The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at a little-known intersection of politics and entertainment, in which Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon is still raking in residuals from Seinfeld. Here's the digest version: When Seinfeld was in its infancy, Ted Turner was in the process of acquiring its production company, Castle Rock, but he was under-capitalized. Bannon's fledgling media company put up the remaining funds, and he agreed to "participation rights" instead of a fee. "Seinfeld has reaped more than $3 billion in its post-network afterlife through syndication deals." Meanwhile, Bannon is "still cashing checks from Seinfeld, and observers say he has made nearly 25 times more off the Castle Rock deal than he had anticipated."
Donald Trump's "transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies."