Super PACs are coming to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s rescue as the freshman Republican tries to narrow Democratic challenger Russ Feingold’s lead in the polls.
In recent days, two super PACs spent nearly $2 million in ads against Feingold, calling out his votes as a senator from 1993 to 2011, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Reform America Fund said it spent seven figures across TV, radio and digital platforms for an ad targeting Feingold’s vote for the federal stimulus act of 2009. The ad says the act sent funds to companies overseas.
The Club for Growth Action super PAC announced an ad campaign Wednesday of more than $750,000 that hits Feingold for voting for various tax increases during his time in the Senate.
Super PACs can raise unlimited funds but cannot coordinate with campaigns.
Outside groups, such as political action committees and nonprofit groups, have spent more than $7.6 million supporting Johnson or opposing Feingold. More than $1.4 million has been spent supporting Feingold or opposing Johnson.
These figures from Federal Election Commission reports do not include recent ad buys such as the one from the Reform America Fund. Political action committees must report their donors, but nonprofit groups do not need to.
The ad campaigns come as new polls show Feingold’s lead shrinking. The most recent Marquette Law School poll found Feingold ahead by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent in a three-way contest, a lead within the poll’s margin of error.
Toward the end of September, the same poll found Feingold had a 6-point advantage.
The tighter polls may be a reason for the increased involvement of donors, University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist David Canon told the newspaper.
GOP donors focused on retaining congressional majorities are benefitting Johnson, as well, Canon said.
The biggest benefactor for Johnson has been the Freedom Partners Action Fund, the super PAC backed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. The group has spent more than $2.8 million supporting Johnson or opposing Feingold, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On the other hand, two environmental outside groups — the League of Conservation Voters super PAC and the Environmental Defense Action Fund — have spent around $1 million in opposition to Johnson, the center found.