In a last ditch effort to overthrow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a Democratic group with deep pockets has started running ads supporting the libertarian candidate for the Kentucky US Senate contest.
A new super PAC called the True Kentucky Patriots began buying TV and digital ads last week to support libertarian Brad Barron, calling him “a true Kentucky conservative for the US Senate,” in the words of a thirty second spot. “Barron is one hundred percent pro-Second Amendment, one hundred percent pro-life and one hundred percent pro-term. Sorry Mitch, 36, that’s too long. “
The group is clearly designed to eliminate Tory votes from McConnell, who faces a challenge from Democrat Amy McGrath. Federal Election Commission records show the True Kentucky Patriots is affiliated with one of the Senate race’s biggest independent spenders, a pro-McGrath group called the Ditch Fund.
True Kentucky Patriots also shares a treasurer with the Ditch Fund, and both groups have paid a Democratic company called Beacon Media to produce and place their respective digital ads.
It’s not uncommon for political operatives to attempt to stimulate third party candidates who they hope will act as spoilers, and split the votes of an opposing ideological coalition to the detriment of one major candidate or the other. But it’s less common for groups to disclose these efforts in publicly available campaign fundraising records.
Kentucky’s True Patriots haven’t been around long enough to reveal any of its donors, and they won’t have to until nearly three weeks after election day. But pro-McGrath forces have already tried to promote Barron’s candidacy in other ways. Another anti-McConnell super PAC, Fire Mitch Save America PAC, has sent letters promoting Barron’s Senate candidacy.
FEC filings also show Democrats sought to directly stimulate Barron. At least five of Barron’s donors have also donated to McGrath’s campaign. One of them, a New York-based Microsoft employee, even donated to McGrath and Barron on the same day.
Polls in the Kentucky Senate contest showed McConnell a steady lead, though his margin ranged from as little as five points to twelve. The most recent poll of the race has McConnell with a nine-point lead over McGrath, and just four percent saying they support Barron’s candidacy, meaning the Libertarian is unlikely to garner enough votes to tip the election. The race nonetheless attracted massive investment from both sides. McConnell and McGrath together spent nearly $ 115 million, with outside groups losing another $ 26 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Kentucky isn’t the only state where Democrats have attempted to stimulate a third-party spoiler in tight Senate competition. In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison’s campaign ran ads pointedly attacking an obscure Constitution Party candidate as too conservative for the state. It appears to be an effort to encourage support for the most right-wing candidate among the state’s most conservative voters – at the expense of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
But the most famous spoiler candidate of the 2020 election cycle is Kanye West. A number of Republican agents have lined up behind his dead-end presidential campaign in a bid to win the votes of Democratic candidate Joe Biden in some key states on the battlefield.
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