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Oct 22, 2014 4:09 PM

Senate Democrats return to Ky. race with TV ads

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Senate Democrats' official campaign arm and one of its largest outside allies on Wednesday reversed course in the Kentucky race and put campaign cash behind television ads for Alison Lundergan Grimes and her bid to oust Republican Mitch McConnell.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last week stopped paying for television ads in Kentucky. McConnell's campaign said it was a sign that Grimes was faltering. The Democratic-backing Senate Majority PAC also quietly dropped off Kentucky airwaves last week.

A Democratic committee official said Wednesday that new internal polling shows that undecided voters are breaking Grimes' way.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee now says it will ask stations in Kentucky to set aside $650,000 in ad time. The committee official shared the plan with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss media strategy.

Soon after, Senate Majority PAC announced it, too, would return to Kentucky airwaves. It already has spent $4.4 million in ads criticizing McConnell, making Kentucky second only to the $7.8 million the group has spent in North Carolina. The group was still finalizing its ad buy in an already-saturated ad market, but was trying to spend at least as much as the DSCC.

Senate Majority PAC, which is backed by former aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has spent more than $46 million this cycle to help at-risk Democrats keep control of the chamber. If Republicans score a net gain of six seats, they will win the majority.

Recent public polls show a close race as the Senate Republican leader seeks a sixth term.

McConnell's campaign responded to word of renewed Democratic advertising by releasing a memo from its pollster that said its most recent soundings showed the Republican winning 49 percent, and Grimes 41 percent.

The DSCC had spent about $750,000 on airtime in early October before dropping off Kentucky televisions. Officials at the time said they were keeping an eye on the race and would continue to pick up part of the tab for get-out-vote operations.

The late spending is just a small piece of the onslaught of campaign cash in Kentucky. The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation puts total spending in the race stands at $59.3 million the fourth most expensive race in the country.

Much of that has been in the form of negative ads run by outside groups against Grimes. The outside groups have spent $16 million against Grimes. McConnell has faced $7.5 million against him from outside groups.

The DSCC spending was first reported by Politico.


Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott


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