Democrat-aligned groups’ strategy to boost farther-right candidates in Republican primaries saw mixed results Tuesday, as one promoted candidate won his primary while two others lost.
Democratic Party-affiliated organizations and political action committees have spent millions of dollars promoting Republican candidates in some of the most contested races in the country. While they were successful in helping Republican Illinois state Sen. Darren Bailey win his primary, Democrats could not push two candidates in Colorado, state Rep. Ron Hanks and Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, over the top in competitive congressional races.
Bailey defeated Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin by nearly 43 points in the GOP primary and will take on Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker in November. The Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) and Pritzker spent more than $30 million on ads accusing Irvin of being soft on crime. The billionaire Pritzker donated $250,000 to the DGA in 2021, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings show.
Overall, Democrats have spent more than $42 million on advertising in Republican primaries, according to Axios’ Josh Kraushaar. (RELATED: Democrats Boost Preferred Republican Candidates In Key Primaries)
However, in Colorado congressional races, Democrats failed to clinch primaries for farther right Republicans. Businessman Joe O’Dea, who has described himself as “a Republican Joe Manchin,” defeated Hanks, who marched to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. In addition, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer defeated Saine in a primary in the state’s Eighth District.
O’Dea beat Hanks by nine points, despite spending by the Super PAC Democratic Colorado in the primary. The National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) complaint alleging that Democratic groups failed to properly mark mailers and failed to disclose spending, both of which are required by federal law. Democratic Colorado registered with the FEC as an organization on June 2, less than four weeks before the primary, so is not yet required to disclose fundraising numbers, but reports indicate that the group has spent as much as $4 million on advertising.
“Hanks was rated one of the most conservative members in the state House,” one ad says. “He says Joe Biden’s election was a fraud. Hanks wants to ban all abortions.”
House Majority PAC, which is aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, spent more than $46,000 on advertising in Colorado’s Eighth District. One ad asks if voters want a “conservative warrior in Congress,” while noting Saine’s support for Trump and opposition to abortion and gun control. Saine ultimately came in third in the primary, finishing nearly 18 points behind Kirkmeyer.
Democrats will continue to spend in GOP primaries in an attempt to elevate candidates that they perceive as beatable. Republican Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz claimed Wednesday that the DGA booked more than $1 million in advertising to promote her opponent, Delegate Dan Cox.
“They know I’m the only candidate that can beat a tax and spend liberal in November,” she said.