Will Democrats spending millions on ads on GOP rivals pay off in November?

Democrats say the campaign strategy is rooted in defining candidates they believe are “extreme Republicans” before the general election so they can’t claim to be moderate.
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Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 10:08 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Democrats say the time around a primary election is when most voters are paying attention to candidates.

“We believe we need to start educating voters about how extreme the Republican candidates are early,” said David Turner of the Democratic Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

The DGA is receiving criticism for its spending on primary ads across the country. For example, in the Illinois governor’s race, the organization is accused of dropping millions on political ads on GOP candidates. The nomination of Republican state Senator Darren Bailey is believed to be heavily impacted by political spending of the DGA and Democratic incumbent Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Citing campaign finance laws, DGA didn’t offer a direct dollar amount spent on ads; however, the total amount is estimated to be around $30 million on Illinois and other races.

“We’re using our resources where we think it’s going to make the biggest impact,” said Turner. “We think defining these candidates early as extremists and out of touch with the concerns of most Americans is really important so that our eventual nominee is set up for success in November.”

Anna Massoglia of the nonpartisan website Open Secrets calls this strategy “election meddling.”

“It’s happening in a number of ways, and across the country in a way it hasn’t in prior cycles,” said Massoglia.

She believes the Democrats use of it with certain candidates is a gamble.

“Seeing them prop up these candidates that they don’t necessarily want in office, and that becomes a very dangerous game,” said Massoglia.

Massoglia says both groups are “meddling” in each other’s races, and that political action and dark money groups are also interfering.