Forget GOP Unity: Tuesday's US Senate Primary in Wisconsin Shows Party At War With Itself
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The new Super PAC for Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, Senate Conservatives Action, is also supporting Neumann, and like Club for Growth, was active in the Texas Senate race supporting Cruz. They have spent $115,000 on ads telling voters "if you really want to shake up the Senate, the guy to send is Mark Neumann." The Super PAC has not yet reported any of its donors, but the top donor to the traditional Senate Conservatives Fund PAC is Koch Industries.
The Tea Party Express' "Our Country Deserves Better" PAC, which also supported Cruz in Texas, is backing Neumann with at least $81,000 in TV and radio ads and a bus tour that Neumann himself is riding on. As has become the group's pattern (and the pattern of its spinoff, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama), the Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves Better has been actively soliciting small-dollar donors to help fund its campaign for Neumann -- but as the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the group has long been known for spending a lot of its money to benefit its leaders and the consulting firm that started it.
Neumann is also getting indirect support from other groups attacking his rivals.
The Majority PAC, a group that says it aims to “[p]rotect the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate,” has spent $372,000 on ads that show street signs in Madison and Milwaukee morphing into "K Street" and "Wall Street" – with voice-overs criticizing Thompson for "raking in millions on K Street working for a Washington, DC, lobbying firm that represents pharmaceuticals and insurance companies" and implying Hovde will serve the interests of Wall Street. "As a DC fund manager who has invested millions in bailout-funded banks involved in fraudulent loans, he'll be representing just one street," the ad says of Hovde. Because the ad comes from a Democrat-aligned group and is running during the primary, it could be perceived as an acknowledgement that Hovde and Thompson are the most likely to survive the primary and face the Democratic candidate (so they are getting their jabs in early), or it could be an effort to convince GOP voters to support Neumann, the candidate polls show is least likely to win in a statewide election.
This outside support has helped Neumann make gains in the polls since early July, but he still lags behind Hovde and Thompson – in part, perhaps, because he ran an aggressive campaign in the 2010 gubernatorial primary against Scott Walker, who is now exceedingly popular in Republican circles.
Hovde Bankrolling Own Campaign, Rising in Polls
Political newcomer Hovde is largely self-funding his campaign -- he is responsible for 92 percent of the $5.5 million in his campaign coffers -- and this money is paying off with a gradual rise in the polls tracking a series of ads touting his private-sector experience. He has become a favored target of his opponents and their big-money supporters, not because he has lived outside of Wisconsin for the past 24 years or because he has skipped voting in most elections, but because he has expressed support in the past for higher taxes on wealthy people like him and federal investment in infrastructure like high-speed rail.
As CMD has reported, a group called Americans for Job Security (AJS) has dropped $689,000 on weeks of TV ads attacking Hovde for allegedly "taking stimulus dollars," a charge Hovde calls misleading. AJS spent $9 million supporting Republicans in the 2010 elections and this is their first ad buy of 2012. Though they are a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors, they are known to have received at least $4.8 million from a Koch-connected conduit for funding pro-GOP dark money nonprofits. It is not clear whether AJS is supporting Neumann or Thompson (although Hovde has accused them of illegally coordinating with the Thompson campaign).