As Republican Sen. Roy Blunt seeks re-election next year, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander — the Democrat running against him — has sought to present Blunt to voters as man whose "constituency is Washington," not Missourians like them.
To combat Kander's charge, Republicans are trying to flip it against him – accusing him of being the one who is cozy with the lobbyists and special interests he says on the campaign trail he will resist if elected. On Wednesday, Blunt's allies at the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new "five-figure" digital campaign, a spokesman said, "including paid ads on multiple networks" and a new website referring to him as Kander "the Pandering Panda."
"Whether it’s fundraising with special interests, flip-flopping on the issues, or teaming up with DC Democrats, you can rely on The Pandering Panda to keep delivering the hits," the digital campaign will say.
In an online video that will be promoted, the NRSC criticizes Kander for fundraisers at lobbying firms in Washington and in Nevada with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. "He arrives Jason Kander and leaves the Pandering Panda," the video says.
The online video is not unlike a series of similar videos released earlier this month by the NRSC on Snapchat during the Republican presidential debate. Those were geo-targeted to Missouri voters and, according to the NRSC, the social platform called them "the best performing political ads ever aired on Snapchat." (A Snapchat spokeswoman said while the company did "not comment on performance" of ads, "it's fair to say that the ad did extremely well.")
Against Blunt, Kander's charge is one that has evidence to help it stick. Democrats have already played up the facts that he has been in Congress since the early 1990s, flies around his home state in campaign donors' planes, lives in a Georgetown home and that many of his immediate family members – from his children to his spouse – have become lobbyists in Washington and Missouri's capital.
Greg Blair, a spokesman for the NRSC, said the ad had nothing to do with Blunt. He said, "Jason Kander’s established record of saying one thing and doing another is a liability for him and him alone."
Last week, Public Policy Polling, a Democrat-leaning firm, released a survey that showed Blunt with a 5 percent lead over his likely Democratic rival, a margin just outside the poll's margin of error of 3.3 percent. The firm said it polled 859 voters from Aug. 7 to Aug. 9.
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