Campaigns & Elections

GOP Senate candidates receive record ad $$$ from McConnell-aligned super PAC

The Senate Leadership Fund has spent $41M on advertising in the commonwealth’s U.S. Senate race between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

By Jennifer Shutt

The super PAC aligned with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has spent a record amount advertising for GOP Senate candidates this cycle, according to AdImpact.

The Senate Leadership Fund has “become the highest-spending advertiser” that AdImpact has ever reported on since its 2014 founding, according to data it released Thursday. The numbers show the GOP group has spent about $178 million on advertising in five key U.S. Senate races – Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania – that will likely determine control of the chamber following next week’s midterm elections.

“Senate Leadership Fund tops issue group spending in Senate races, with a total of $205M pooled across nine Senate races,” AdImpact wrote.

“The next highest spending issue group in Senate races is the Democratic counterpart to SLF, Senate Majority PAC with $139M across seven different Senate races,” the organization wrote, noting that “Senate Majority PAC was consistently outspending Senate Leadership Fund until September, but SLF has since placed over $202M between September and November.”

The GOP super PAC has spent $42 million in Georgia, where GOP candidate Herschel Walker is seeking to flip one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats back to red by defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. 

In Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, and celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz, a Republican, are vying for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent $41 million on advertising this year.

The group has doled out $36 million on ads in North Carolina in an attempt to bolster Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd against state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, for that state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance’s campaign has received $31 million in advertising support from the Senate Leadership Fund in his bid to beat Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan for an open seat in the Buckeye State.

And in Nevada, where Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is attempting to stave off former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican, the McConnell-aligned super PAC has spent $28 million on advertisements.

The Senate Majority PAC, aligned with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, has become the third-highest spending advertiser AdImpact has ever tracked, spending $152 million in its top five races.

The biggest ad buy by Democrats went to Pennsylvania’s Senate race with $50 million, followed by a $32 million investment in Nevada.

Another $31 million went to reelection ads for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, who is attempting to fend off a challenge from Republican Blake Masters.

In Wisconsin, where Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes hopes to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, the super PAC has spent $26 million.

Senate Majority PAC has spent considerably less on advertising in the North Carolina Senate race than the McConnell-aligned super PAC, with $13 million on advertisements.

AdImpact wrote in its post that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $41 million on advertising overall while the National Republican Senatorial Committee has spent $25 million.

“Notably, Senate Majority PAC didn’t spend at all in Georgia Senate, but DSCC put almost $9M supporting Warnock,” AdImpact wrote. “This is on track with our projections to be some of the highest midterm Senate spending in an election cycle, and we will see how spending impacts outcomes in less than one week.”

Jennifer Shutt is a senior reporter for the States Newsroom and this story appeared in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

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