Outside Spending Wars Reignite in Great Plains

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbrazito/4005230853/sizes/m/in/photostream/">JBrazito</a>


Never mind that the 2012 elections, in which a resurgent GOP will try to topple Barack Obama and reclaim a Senate majority, are nearly two years away. Never mind that the 112th Congress is just days old. Already the spending wars for the next election season have begun in an unlikely place: the political backwater that is North Dakota.

A left-leaning independent advocacy group, Commonsense Ten, is doling out $30,000 for radio ads in North Dakota in defense of Sen. Kent Conrad, the Washington Post reports. The ads describe Conrad as a “deficit hawk” and “lifelong North Dakotan, champion for our ranches, and family farms and fiscal conservative.” Why now, and why Conrad? As it turns out, C10’s new ad buy is a response to recent attacks on Conrad by the conservative American Future Fund. Based in Iowa, AFF recently bought $60,000 worth of air time for commercials that criticize Conrad for backing “wasteful stimulus, massive Wall Street bailouts, and the budget-busting health care bill that Americans didn’t want.”

Here’s more from the Post:

“We saw last cycle what the Republican dominance in outside spending meant,” said [C10 co-founder Jim] Jordan. “We’re going to do everything we can to play that to a draw, at least, in 2011 and 2012.”

In the last election, North Dakota Democrats took a major hit, with Republicans winning an open Senate seat and defeating former Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D). Given those gains, Republicans believe 2012 is the cycle where they finally can beat Conrad and have ramped up public pressure on him in the early stages of the race.

Conrad has been mentioned as a possible retiree but has said little publicly about his future political plans. Unlike in 2010, when popular Gov. John Hoeven (R) ran and won a Senate race, Republicans have no obvious candidate to take on Conrad at the moment.

Democrats should be encouraged that C10 is already wading into the 2012 fray. With 23 senators up for re-election (that includes independents Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont) and only 10 GOP seats up for grabs, 2012 could very well be the year the Senate flips back to the Republicans. Which is to say, Senate Democrats are going to need all the help they can get.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.