Feb 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell-tied PAC funds ads to disrupt N.C. Democratic Senate primary

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is funding ads aimed at disrupting North Carolina's Democratic Senate primary, AP reports.

Why it matters: The seat currently held by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is a primary target for Democrats in 2020 as they aim to flip the Senate. The McConnell-backed ads are aimed to support state Sen. Erica Smith at the expense of former state Sen Cal Cunningham, who has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

  • Cunningham's campaign has also greatly outraised Smith's thus far.

The state of play: An FEC filing this week shows the Faith and Power PAC, which ran ads that backed Smith and argued Cunningham was too moderate on gun control and LGBT issues, received all of its $2.95 million from the Senate Leadership Fund.

  • Before the filing confirmed the source of Faith and Power's cash, North Carolina Democrats already believed that Republicans had backed the ads to drive Cunningham to spend more money.
  • A spokesperson for the Tillis campaign told AP that the senator knew nothing about Faith and Power except what was said in news reports.

The other side: Cunningham created his own ad accusing Republicans of "meddling" in the primary even before the revelation in the FEC filing.

Worth noting: North Carolina Senate races have a history of getting expensive. More than $121 million was spent during the 2014 Senate race between Kay Hagan and Tillis — mostly by outside groups.

Go deeper: These Senate seats are up for election in 2020

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Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to run for Senate

Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, announced Monday that he will run for Senate in 2020.

Why it matters: Bullock, a popular moderate in the state, will try to unseat first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines, as Democrats attempt to gain back control of the Senate in November — which will require them to flip four seats to gain a simple majority.

Go deeper: These Senate seats are up for election in 2020

Ad spending on 2020 primary tops $1 billion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Spending on the 2020 presidential primary has officially surpassed the $1 billion mark, with more than half of that total coming from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

Why it matters: It's the most money that has been spent this early on in an election cycle in U.S. history.

Senate cancels recess to work on coronavirus legislation

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that the Senate will cancel its planned recess and remain in session next week as Congress attempts to pass legislation to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: McConnell previously called House Democrats' coronavirus proposal an "ideological wishlist," per The Hill. That package aimed to provide guaranteed paid sick leave for all workers, free coronavirus testing and a $1 billion infusion for unemployment insurance.

Go deeper: Congressional doctor predicts 70 million–150 million U.S. coronavirus cases