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Super PACs Shift Focus to Congressional Races

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Claire McCaskill is one of the four incumbent Democratic Senators that FreedomWorks has targeted recently.

Super PACs have jumped feet first into Congressional races in recent weeks, the latest public disclosures show, with the conservative groups Club for Growth Action and FreedomWorks for America leading the way.

The most recent batch of campaign finance reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission on May 20, suggest that unrestricted super PACs that played a dominant role in the Republican presidential primary are shifting their focus to House and Senate contests. Recent disclosures also illustrate an ongoing cash advantage for GOP-friendly super PACs, particularly conservative ones.

Club for Growth Action, which favors small government, spent $2.2 million on House and Senate races in April, according to the latest FEC reports. The group raised just less than $723,000 last month, bringing its receipts for the election cycle to $6.6 million, a total that places it among the top-grossing super PACs.

FreedomWorks for America, a tea party-friendly conservative group, spent just less than $400,000 on some half-dozen Senate races last month, FEC reports show. The super PAC raised $345,000 in April, bringing its total for the election cycle to $4 million.

Both super PACs have spent heavily in GOP primaries, and helped conservative Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his successful primary challenge earlier this month to incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar.

Both groups also have backed Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz in his bid to win the state’s GOP Senate primary. Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is not seeking re-election. FreedomWorks has also spent more than $636,000 in an attempt to oust GOP incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

The two super PACs are also going after Democrats. FreedomWorks has targeted four incumbent Democratic Senators in recent weeks: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Club for Growth Action has spent more than $200,000 to back Scott Keadle, a Republican county commissioner in North Carolina running for the 8th district seat now held by incumbent Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.

Democrat-friendly super PACs have also stepped up their Congressional spending in recent weeks. House Majority PAC, which backs Democrats running for the House, spent several hundred thousand dollars in a handful of races in April and May. That included ads assailing Republican Jesse Kelly, who is running against Democrat Ron Barber in the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Majority PAC, which backs Senate Democrats, spent about $1 million in April and May on several Senate races. This included more than half a million dollars to back McCaskill and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for Senate there. Majority PAC also spent more than $300,000 to oppose Ohio Republican Josh Mandel, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, and some $25,000 on anti-Lugar online ads.

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