WASHINGTON — It's a race to the finish line in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District where Democrats and Republicans are spending big bucks to make their final case to voters.
Channel 11 News got an exclusive first look at a new ad from progressive Super PAC American Bridge.
The group says the new ad, targeting Republican candidate Rick Saccone for his record on handling the opioid epidemic, is the hardest hitting ad they’ve put out.
The ad focuses on a hearing in which Saccone, serving as a state representative, tells the mother of an opioid addict that the state doesn’t have more funding to address the epidemic. The ad shows another clip where Saccone says “it’s the family’s responsibility, not the rest of us” to take care of someone addicted to opioids.
The opioid crisis has hit Pennsylvania particularly hard. Pennsylvania saw a 44 percent spike in overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 4,600 Pennsylvanians died of overdoses in 2016. That's among the highest rate of all states.
"The opioid epidemic is slamming Western Pennsylvania harder than almost any part of the country," American Bridge President Bradley Beychok said in a statement. "And instead of showing that he understands the growing threat and agonizing pain of this emergency as it takes so many lives, Rick Saccone says the families are to blame.”
The ad will air on Facebook as part of a five-figure digital ad buy. The ad will likely air on radio as well, but the details were not yet confirmed.
Saccone's Democratic opponent, Conor Lamb, put out a similar ad this week that also highlights that moment last year.
Republicans aren't backing away from spending in the final days of the race. The National Republican Campaign Committee released an ad this week painting Lamb's record as a federal prosecutor as weak and claims he let dangerous criminals walk free. The NRCC put out another ad recently making a similar case — that Saccone is tough on crime and will keep voters safe.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC closely tied to House Speaker Paul Ryan, has spent more than $3 million on the race.
The group's latest ad, released last week, focus on tax cuts and the economy. The ad ties Lamb to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi because of his opposition to the tax cut bill.
Outside groups on both sides are using this race as a bellwether for the 2018 midterms. Though President Donald J. Trump won the district by 20 points, Democrats see the race as an opportunity to prove they can win anywhere. Republicans see it as a must-win race to prove Republicans can keep control of the U.S. House this year.
The seat was vacated by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned in scandal in October.
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