Midterms 2018

Pro-Trump Super PAC Dumping $12.5M into Midterms

America First Action pledges that campaign spending barrage is just round one in effort to hold House, Senate for the president

Image Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

A super PAC aligned with President Donald Trump will dump $12.5 million into competitive congressional races beginning Labor Day.

America First Action PAC, founded in April of last year to promote the president’s agenda, will spend the funds on television, radio and digital ads, along with campaign mailers. The group will target two vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. America First said it would spend $1.5 million in Missouri and $980,000 in North Dakota.

In addition, the PAC will runs ads in 10 House races across the country.

The $12.5 million investment is just a downpayment, according to the group.

“This is wave one, or round one,” spokeswoman Erin Montgomery told LifeZette. “We’re expecting to do another one, or maybe two.”

America First Action so far has raised $16.2 million this cycle and spent $5.1 million — including $2.4 million on media, according to an analysis of campaign finance records by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The PAC has a mixed electoral record. It spent $40,263 in support of Republican candidate Tory Balderson in Ohio and $164,655 against Democrat Danny O’Connor. Balderson narrowly won a special election for the House of Representatives in a Columbus-area district.

The group spent $176,376 supporting Rep. Dan Donavan (R-N.Y.), who fended off a primary challenger.

But its $1.1 million in expenditures against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) did not stop him from winning a special election to the House in April.

And the group’s favored candidate twice lost in a special election to the Senate in Alabama last year. The PAC spent $155,000 on behalf of then-Sen. Luther Strange, but he lost the GOP primary. Then the group spent almost $1.1 million against Democrat Doug Jones, who went on to win the election.

America First Action so far has spent $341,555 against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), one of the Democrats that Republican strategists have targeted in November.

Brian Walsh, the president of the PAC, vowed that his organization plans to be heavily involved in Republican’ efforts to hold the House and Senate.

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“This is a critical first step and a sizable investment in helping Republicans hold the House and grow the Senate, and many of these races are in states that will be important to our efforts in 2020,” he said in a statement.

The House races that America First Action has targeted this round include:

  • The 2nd District in Maine, where Republican Bruce Poliquin is the incumbent.
  • The 8th District in Michigan, where Republican Rep. Mike Bishop faces Democrat Elissa Slotkin.
  • The 11th District in Michigan, an open seat for which Republican Lena Epstein faces Democrat Haley Stevens.
  • The 1st District in Minnesota, a rare pickup opportunity for Republicans, where Democratic incumbent Tim Waltz is leaving office to run for governor.
  • The 8th District in Minnesota, an open seat for which incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan is not running for re-election.
  • The 13th District in North Carolina, where Republican incumbent Ted Budd faces Democrat Kathy Manning.
  • The 22nd District in New York, where the incumbent is Republican Claudia Tenney.
  • The 17th District in Pennsylvania, where Lamb faces Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus in a redrawn district.
  • The 32nd District in Texas, where the incumbent is Republican Pete Sessions.
  • The 3rd District in West Virginia, an open seat for which Democrat Richard Ojeda has shown surprising strength.

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