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Senate races "PAC-ing" on the ad dollars - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Senate races "PAC-ing" on the ad dollars

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SHREVEPORT, La -

Wealthy donors now have more freedom to give big bucks to influence federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that limits on how much people can give candidates, committees, and political parties are unconstitutional.

We've already seen huge outside money poured into key Senate races. That money is turned into attack ads on television and radio.

So now you can expect to see more of them, especially in the red states of Louisiana and Arkansas, where Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor face tough re-elections because of their support of Obamacare.

There've already been ads reminding voters of the unpopular law, and the senators' link to an unpopular president in these parts. Most of the ads are from political action committees, which get much of their funding from rich donors -- enough to spend a billion dollars across the country in 2012.

"When you look at now what the Super PACs will be able to spend on elections, it's almost obscene." says Lou Gehrig Burnett, editor of the political weekly online newsletter Fax-Net.

Wealthy donors can now give to as many candidates as they want, pouring as many millions as they want into political action committees or party war chests. Some may not like it. But with the stakes so high, big money from outside donors will really roll in.

"Whoever has control of the Senate affects their own particular position," Burnett says of those wealthy donors. "So they feel they have a right to get involved in these elections. And rightly so."

There's even an ad from the Democrats' Senate Majority PAC that criticizes Republican Bill Cassidy for taking money from a GOP PAC.

"Senator Landrieu was complaining about out of state billionaires trying to decide the election in Louisiana. But at the same time she's got to use Senate Majority PAC who is made up of billionaires from outside of Louisiana as well," Burnett chuckled.

Republicans can control both houses of Congress if they pick up six seats in that Senate. So Landrieu and Pryor have big targets on them, especially now that there are no overall spending limits. Both candidates and their supporting PACs will pack on the ad money, even though, as an actress in one attack ad on Pryor says, "People don't like political ads."

They may not like them. But Burnett says they work. And so far, it looks like Landrieu and her supporters are winning the ad war.

She's re-opened a double-digit lead over Cassidy. That comes after Senate Majority PAC ads, including the spot portraying Cassidy as being closely tied to the billionaire Koch brothers. The Kochs have chiefly funded the Americans For Prosperity PAC ads that slam Landrieu over Obamacare.

The survey by the GOP polling firm Magellan Strategies shows Landrieu leading with 39 percent over Cassidy's 26 percent. There's a big group of undecided voters -- 28%. Other Republican challengers Paul Hollis and Rob Maness are stuck down around 3 percent each.

But there's also bad news for Landrieu in the poll. Only 42 percent approve of her job performance, while 53 percent disapprove.

As for the Arkansas race, a new "Talk Business" poll shows the Democrat Pryor with a narrow lead over Tom Cotton, 46 to 43 percent. Eight percent are undecided.

You can bet millions more in ads will be spent to sway those undecideds in both races. Burnett says a downside to all the Super PAC spending is that it shuts lesser known, lesser funded challengers out of the process.

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