American Crossroads, a Republican-aligned super PAC, launched an ad Wednesday targeting Montana's newly appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh.
The ad highlights local TV news coverage of a 2010 investigation by the U.S. Army Inspector General that reportedly concluded Walsh abused government resources. Backed by a $125,000 buy, the ad will air for a week in Missoula, Billings and Helena.
"Walsh was formally reprimanded by the U.S. Army. ... If they question Walsh's ability to lead, Montana voters should too," the announcer says in the 30-second spot.
Walsh was serving as lieutenant governor when he was appointed to the Senate last week. He was sworn in Tuesday to replace longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. The outgoing senator, who had already planned to retire at the end of the year, resigned after the Senate confirmed him as ambassador to China.
Although appointed to fill the seat early due to Baucus' early exit, Walsh still faces a challenging road to winning a full Senate term this fall. He will likely face GOP Rep. Steve Daines in a state that voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a 13-point margin in 2012.
Daines, a House freshman, raised more than $1 million in the fourth quarter and ended 2013 with $1.9 million in cash on hand. Walsh, who faces a primary but is backed by national Democrats, raised $583,000 and had $436,000 cash on hand.
The race is rated Tossup/Tilts Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.