WASHINGTON – Political groups aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell started July with nearly $44 million in available cash and will unleash a major advertising onslaught next month, according to figures figured provided first to USA TODAY.
One Nation, the best-financed group in the McConnell orbit, plans to spend $16 million in August in five Senate contests crucial to Republicans.
The biggest buy: $4.6 million in Nevada, where the GOP is defending Republican Sen. Dean Heller in a state Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential contest.
Ads also will target races with Democratic incumbents in Missouri, $4.2 million; Indiana, $3.4 million; and North Dakota, $682,000. One Nation also will spend $3.2 million in Tennessee to defend the open Republican seat sought by Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen.
The four outside groups working to help McConnell retain the GOP’s hold on the Senate – One Nation, the Senate Leadership Fund, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS – raised a combined $22.9 million during the second quarter of this year, officials said. They ended June with $43.9 million in cash reserves.
Two of the McConnell groups, American Crossroads and the Senate Leadership Fund, operate as political action committees and disclose their fundraising and spending to federal election regulators.
Officials say the Senate Leadership Fund took in more than $7.6 million in June, its best fundraising month of the 2018 election cycle. The group is slated to file a report about its activity Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
Republicans now have a 51-49 advantage in the Senate. But Democrats are defending three times as many seats as Republicans in November – many of them in red states captured by President Donald Trump in 2016.
Steven Law, who oversees the McConnell groups, said the Kentucky Republican will be “an invaluable asset” to confirming Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
“Donors realize this,” Law said in a statement, “and it has sharpened their focus on the importance of Republicans holding the Senate this November.”