Jul 28, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Democrats target Ted Cruz and Rick Scott with Medicare ads

Ted Cruz and Rick Scott. Photos: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images and Anna Rose Layden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Democrats are running personalized ads against Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the only two vulnerable Republican senators in 2024, Axios has learned.

The big picture: Democrats are on defense this cycle, defending incumbents in three states that former President Trump won in 2020, as well as another five swing states.

  • But they have narrow openings to challenge in two GOP-held states, Florida and Texas, which are rated as only “likely Republican” – rather than “solid Republican” – by Cook Political Report.

Driving the news: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is running a five-figure digital ad campaign aimed at seniors, accusing Cruz and Scott of being "a threat to your Medicare."

  • The campaign also includes spots targeting Senate Republicans more generally that will run in in seven Democratic-held states.
  • DSCC spokesperson Tommy Garcia said these are their first ads of the cycle targeting the two GOP senators, telling Axios they will “look for every opportunity to put Cruz and Scott on defense.”

The other side: “Democrats’ reckless spending is going to bankrupt Medicare and Social Security, leading to massive benefit cuts. This is a fight we’re happy to have," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Philip Letsou told Axios.

Zoom in: In addition to representing the only GOP-held Senate seats in states that were decided by single digits in the 2020 presidential election, the two conservative senators have distinct vulnerabilities.

  • Scott, in two gubernatorial elections and a Senate race, also won narrow races despite his ability to self-fund as a multi-millionaire.
  • The Florida senator also left himself open to attacks on Medicare and Social Security with a policy agenda he put out last cycle proposing to sunset all federal legislation after five years.

Yes, but: There are also substantial mitigating factors that could insulate Cruz and Scott.

  • Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), who is running to take on Cruz, could face a bruising Democratic primary with state Sen. Roland Gutierrez.
  • Scott will likely benefit from his once-purple state's drift to the right and the fact that the top two GOP presidential contenders call Florida home.
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