Strange and Allies Overwhelming Moore in TV Ad Spending

One week to go in competitive Alabama Senate special primary

Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., speaks with a supporter after the U.S. Senate candidate forum held by the Shelby County Republican Party in Pelham,  Alabama, in early August. Sen. Strange is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Luther Strange and allies are dramatically outspending Roy Moore and friends on television in the special Republican primary in Alabama.

With a week to go before the runoff, Moore is leading the appointed senator by a couple points or more, depending on the poll.

While Moore is attacking Strange for being a part of the “swamp” in Washington and leveraging specific attacks on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senator is enjoying significant help from some of the groups and associations causing him problems.

Strange and his allies have spent or are scheduled to spend more than $4.7 million on television ads from just after the Aug. 21 primary to the Sept. 26 runoff — including $758,000 from the senator’s campaign — over $3.3 million from Senate Leadership Fund (the McConnell-aligned Super PAC), $525,000 from the National Rifle Association, and $138,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as of Friday, according to a source tracking spending in the race.

The effort for Moore on television is meager. The former state supreme court justice’s campaign has spent or is scheduled to spend $533,000 on TV in the run up to next week’s vote.

In spite of the saber-rattling by former White House adviser Steve Bannon about challenging the Republican Party, the group aligned with the Breitbart founder (Great America Alliance) is scheduled to spent just $27,000 on TV ads in Alabama this week, and didn’t have an ad reservation for the final week, as of Friday.

Strange and friends are scheduled to outspend Moore in the final week, nearly $1.6 million to $237,000.

Of course there is still time for Great America Alliance to re-enter the race with a major media buy. At the same time, SLF and others could increase their ad buys as well.

After finishing first in the primary, Moore started the runoff with the lead (though it has narrowed) and, from a sheer messaging standpoint, being known as the outsider against the establishment is a good position. But it’s unclear whether Moore and his lead can withstand Strange’s spending advantage as well as a Saturday visit to Huntsville by President Donald Trump for the senator.  

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