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Senate GOP launches ads in two blue states

Republicans are now putting money behind their claims that Colorado and Washington are potential Senate pickup opportunities this fall.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching ads this week in the two blue states, a sign that the GOP is seeking to expand the map of Senate battlegrounds this year as Democrats remain on defense over soaring consumer prices — and as polling shows GOP candidates struggling in some other top battlegrounds.

The ads set to air Wednesday, obtained by POLITICO, show photos of Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as their faces morph into President Joe Biden’s. A narrator charges that each incumbent senator “just goes along” with Biden as gas, grocery and housing prices have surged.

The Colorado ad says that Bennet votes with the president 98 percent of the time, while the Washington ad hits Murray for a 96 percent voting record with Biden.

The NRSC is spending $765,000 on a week’s worth of television ads in Washington, in addition to $250,000 in Colorado. Democrats in each state have already been on the attack against the Republican challengers there, suggesting the party anticipated that their incumbents could find themselves in tight races.

Murray’s campaign has run multiple ads hitting Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley for her support for former President Donald Trump and self-described “pro-life” beliefs. And in Colorado, the Senate Democrats’ top super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, spent millions of dollars in the Republican primary in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Joe O’Dea, a GOP candidate who has branded himself as an independent-minded moderate.

Public polls since June have shown Murray’s lead over Smiley anywhere from 5 to 20 percentage points, leaving uncertainty about how close the general election race will actually be there.

Murray’s campaign manager Helen Hare noted Murray’s current work to pass legislation Democrats are referring to as the Inflation Reduction Act, a $670 billion bill to tackle climate change and lower prescription drug and health care costs, while establishing a minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent.

“Mitch McConnell and MAGA Republicans are desperate to see their handpicked candidate, Tiffany Smiley, elected to the Senate so they can pass their agenda that would ban abortion nationwide, gut our democracy, and end Medicare and Social Security in five years — so, of course, they’re placing six-figure buys in Washington state,” Hare said in a statement.

Georgina Beven, a Bennet campaign spokesperson, added: “Michael stands up to his party when it’s right for Colorado. Mitch McConnell’s NRSC is launching the first ad of the general election for Joe O’Dea and it’s negative and misleading. This tells Coloradans all they need to know about who O’Dea sides with: McConnell, not Colorado.”

NRSC chairman Rick Scott said Smiley and O’Dea’s campaigns have Murray and Bennet “on their heels.”

“From the beginning of this cycle, the NRSC has been committed to expanding the map, and we’re doing just that,” Scott said in a statement to POLITICO.

A spokesperson for the NRSC declined to say how much the committee intends to spend in the two states.

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