Oct 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Dems hit Republicans from the right with "Trump traitor" ads

A screenshot of a website attacking Republican David Valadao as a "traitor" to Donald Trump.

Screenshot of the website TraitorDavidValandao.com

Democrats are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking Republican House candidates from the right, with efforts to boost spoiler Libertarian candidates and portray a Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump as a traitor to the former president.

The big picture: Prominent Democratic groups previously spent millions elevating hard-right Trump backers in key Republican primaries, with the expectation they'd be more beatable in general elections.

Driving the news: Voter Protection Project, a Democratic PAC, is adapting the tactic for next month's general election.

  • The group is now using appeals to pro-Trump Republicans to try to chip away at conservative base support in key races.

Why it matters: The tactics show how Democrats have continued to try to undercut the opposition through surreptitious attempts to chip away at their conservative support.

Between the lines: This new effort by the VPP, coming just weeks before Election Day, suggests a Hail Mary effort to ward off Republican gains in key races.

Driving the news: "David Valadao Is A Traitor Who Turned His Back On President Trump To Serve His Own Interests," declares a VPP website devoted to attacking California Rep. David Valadao, who was one of just ten House Republicans to vote for Trump's impeachment.

  • "HE EVEN VOTED AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP'S BORDER WALL," declares the website, TraitorDavidValadao.com.

In two other districts, both represented by vulnerable Democratic incumbents, VPP is working to boost spoiler Libertarian candidates.

  • Recent VPP mail pieces in Michigan attacked Republican Paul Junge as a "former California banker who went to UC Berkeley" and say he "supports raising taxes."
  • Junge is taking on Democratic incumbent Dan Kildee in a race that the Cook Political Report recently moved from "toss-up" to "lean Democrat."
  • VPP's mailers urge voters to support Libertarian candidate David Canny, who will "stop wasteful spending" and "pass a balanced budget amendment."

A VPP website devoted to attacking Kansas Republican candidate Amanda Adkins, who's challenging Democrat Sharice Davids, describes her as a "typical DC swamp creature" who "serves the interests of the DC elites."

  • It urges votes for Libertarian candidate Steve Hohe, who will "crack down on illegal immigration" and "eliminate the federal income tax."

VPP has spent nearly $700,000 on mailers and digital ads attacking those three Republicans or boosting their third-party rivals, according to Federal Election Commission records.

  • VPP's website says it is "leading the charge against Republicans at the state and federal level who seek to suppress our right to vote by taking electoral action."
  • Its top donor this cycle is the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is made up entirely of Democrats.
  • VPP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its new ads.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to VPP as the Voter Participation Project, rather than the Voter Protection Project.

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