WASHINGTON – The national parties sought to shake up Senate races in two states Wednesday, with Democrats pumping about $1 million into Arizona and Republicans spending about the same in Maryland.
Less than a week before the election, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is spending money to help defeat Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, once considered a favorite to win re-election in Arizona, officials from both parties said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee put its money on Maryland’s Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele to win the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes, the longest-serving senator in the history of the state.
Until this week, the parties had narrowed their primary battlegrounds, with both spending millions on ads in New Jersey, Tennessee, Missouri and Virginia. The DSCC already was spending money in Maryland, as well as Montana and Rhode Island. The NRSC this week also bought more than $880,000 in ads in Michigan in an effort to defeat incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow.
The moves and countermoves by the two party organizations reflect the fluid nature of the closing days of the midterm election campaign. Both parties have money to spend, but it was unclear Wednesday whether the commitments in Arizona and Maryland were based on perceived opportunities or a desire to force the opposition to spend money where it hadn’t planned.
Kyl, a 12-year veteran of the Senate, is being challenged by millionaire Jim Pederson, a former state Democratic chairman who had spent millions of his own money on the campaign. The state has long leaned Republican, but in this election Democratic challengers are in close contests in three of the state’s eight congressional districts.
In Maryland, most polls show Steele behind Democratic Rep. Ben Cardin. But Steele, who is black, has been winning the support of some Democratic African-American elected officials in the state.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Republican Bob Corker gave his campaign $2 million of his own money for the final week of the race. It was the second time the millionaire and former construction company executive has put $2 million toward his election effort.
The loan would trigger the so-called “millionaire’s amendment,” and campaign finance law provision that allows his opponent, Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., to raise more money from individual donors.