Virginia Is for Lovers of Attack Ads

Photograph by Steve Helber/AP Photo

Former Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, left, and former Senator George Allen, right, listen to moderator Candy Crowley, center, during the Virginia Bar Association's senatorial debate in Hot Springs, Va., on July 21, 2012.

Virginia, which advertised itself as being the state for lovers, this year has become the state for attacks. A swing state in the presidential election, Virginia airwaves for months have been filled with ads attacking President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

A U.S. Senate race between former Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat, and former U.S. Senator George Allen, the Republican seeking to regain the seat he lost six years ago to Democrat Jim Webb, hasn’t been high-minded eitther. And the nasty rhetoric was ratcheted up today when both Crossroads GPS, the Republican-leaning nonprofit that former George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove helped create, and Majority PAC, the super-political action committee supporting Senate Democratic candidates, debuted new TV commercials in the state.

The new Crossroads ad attacks Kaine for supporting cuts in defense spending, saying such reductions would cost jobs in Virginia. “That’s Tim Kaine, not putting Virginia first,” the narrator says.

Crossroads didn’t immediately provide cost details for the ad.

Majority PAC’s latest $1.6 million ad campaign is being done jointly with the League of Conservation Voters. The groups are funding two ads that accuse Allen of supporting tax breaks for oil companies and for companies sending jobs overseas.

“Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce are trying to buy a Senate seat for George Allen so that he can work for the industry from the halls of Congress,” Majority PAC strategist J.B. Poersch said.

Before these latest ads, Crossroads GPS and its sister super-PAC, American Crossroads, had spent $1.7 million, and the Republican-aligned U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent another $1.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign spending. Both Crossroads GPS and the Chamber hide their donors from public scrutiny, as the law allows.

Majority PAC, which like American Crossroads is required to disclose disclose donors, previously spent $1.6 million on the race.

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