Democrats scramble to avoid shock Senate loss in Washington state
The national political environment currently favors midterm Republicans, and Democrats spending to support an incumbent in a solidly blue state is not a good sign for them.
« It doesn’t surprise me that this race has gotten tighter, » said Alex Glass, a state-based Democratic strategist, who noted that voters were still not paying attention to the race over the summer.
But in a liberal stronghold like Washington — a state where President Joe Biden has gained nearly 20 percentage points — Glass and other Democratic operatives say they think voters’ feelings about abortion rights and the desire to act on climate change will ultimately outweigh dissatisfaction with the economy. Democrats just can’t slack off in the meantime, they say.
Last week, Women Vote, a super PAC affiliated with abortion rights organization EMILY’s List, added $2.4 million to the Washington race. That’s on top of the $4 million the band had already spent this year on TV ads supporting Murray, according to AdImpact.
A spokesperson for EMILY’s List said Women Vote does not publicly comment on its spending strategy. But in a statement, the group signaled its steadfast support for Murray, who has been a foot soldier for the organization since entering the Senate in 1993.
« With Republicans threatening a national abortion ban, we need Patty Murray more than ever, » said EMILY’s List spokesperson Benjamin Ray, calling Murray a « pioneer and champion of women’s freedom. to control their own bodies » while describing Smiley’s candidacy as a « McConnell ». – sustained challenge.
Murray’s campaign, meanwhile, bought an additional $1.5 million worth of ads over the past week, in addition to a smaller TV spot as part of a coordinated effort with the Senate Campaign Committee. democrat. During the same period, Smiley added approximately $915,000 in new television spending.
The senator’s campaign also continues to run TV ads directly attacking Smiley – as Murray has done for months – a tactic that shows the campaign is taking the challenge seriously. Murray released his latest ad targeting Smiley on Thursday, a campaign spot titled « Don’t Be Fooled. »
A joint fundraising appeal from Murray and the DSCC on Tuesday referenced an anonymous poll showing the senator up just 4 percentage points, calling the gap “too narrow for comfort.”
« Smiley made millions more than my team last quarter and she’s closing the gap in the race, » Murray’s email read.
Democrats continue to hold a spending advantage in the state through the Nov. 8 election, having run or reserved $18.5 million in ads, versus $11.8 million for Republicans, according to AdImpact.
But Smiley has shown more fundraising momentum, likely the result of being an up-and-coming Republican politician in a state that grassroots Democratic donors haven’t seen as particularly competitive.
In the third fundraising quarter of this year, Smiley outsold Murray by a whopping $5.7 million to $3.4 million, having tied the incumbent senator in the previous two quarters.
The state hasn’t sent a GOP member to the Senate in decades. Washington’s last Republican senator, Slade Gorton, was elected in 1988 and left office in January 2001.
A new poll of Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group led by David Bossie, a former deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump, found Murray with a 6-point lead over Smiley. In the same poll, conducted last week by GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, 39% of voters said Murray deserved re-election, while 51% said it was time to give someone another chance. a.
In one state, Murray won with 59% support in 2016 and Biden with 58% in 2020, Bossie said, this year’s Senate race « shouldn’t be a contest. »
“Washington State is not a purple state. It is not a marginal state. It is a deep blue state. Having this conversation bodes ill for Democrats,” he said.
But while GOP money has poured into the Washington and Colorado Senate races this year — including $3.4 million for a pro-Smiley super PAC — Republicans have been unable to donate. prioritizing states as serious pickup opportunities, working instead to bolster struggling campaigns in more GOP-friendly states. Republican spending groups have poured tens of millions of dollars into individual states like Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona in a fight to regain control of the equally divided Senate.
Top Democrats shrug off the suggestion that Murray is in deep trouble this year, but suggest it’s prudent to take the race seriously.
A National Democratic Senate campaign aide has described how no one in the party wants to ‘wake up to a world where Patty Murray isn’t re-elected’ – or where the party hasn’t ‘done everything to defend Senator Murray Republican attacks ». .”
The Republican National Senate Committee spent $750,000 in Washington, a state that has never been a top GOP target this year. Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the committee, did not respond directly to questions about whether the NRSC would spend additional money in Washington.
« Tiffany Smiley is running an incredible campaign, and she’s scared of 30-year incumbent Patty Murray and the National Democrats, » Hartline said.