U.S. Chamber aims its media fire at Steelman with new attack ad, her SuperPAC targets Brunner
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman is the contest’s latest target for outside political interests, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches a significant ad buy in the state attacking her.
The national chamber – which backs Steelman rival John Brunner – attempts in the ad to tie Steelman to the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The chamber ad contends that Steelman is anti-business and close to labor, a charge that the chamber also has made against McCaskill. (The state Democratic Party has countered with lists of supportive businesses.)
The new chamber spot even shows Steelman next to a photo of Teamsters union chief James Hoffa.
The ad asserts that there is little difference between Steelman and McCaskill.
News outlets report that the ad will run on TV stations in St. Louis and Kansas City. The national chamber’s press staff were unavailable for comment.
Steelman’s campaign issued an angry denial of the ad’s assertions, calling it “just flat out wrong.”
Steelman, whose husband is a prominent trial lawyer, has at times been on the same side with labor on some issues. But she emphasized that she supports right-to-work legislation, which would ban closed-union shops and is strongly opposed by unions, as well as legislation to do away with payroll deduction of union dues.
“Sarah Steelman is 100 percent pro-business -- always has been and always will be,” her campaign said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Washington, D.C. groups are threatened by Sarah's call for changing the way Washington, D.C. works. They are more interested in maintaining things as they are and are opposed to Sarah Steelman's message of reform and her commitment to doing what is right.”
Steelman is competing against Brunner and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, in the Aug. 7 Republican primary.
The ad comes amid Brunner’s pounding in TV ads – from Steelman, McCaskill and Senate Democrats’ Majority PAC – that question his record as a businessman, which he has touted as his chief asset.
Outside groups, including the chamber, also have spent at least $8 million on TV ads attacking McCaskill -- one of the most embattled Democratic incumbents in the U.S. Senate.
Brunner, a wealthy businessman, is largely funding his campaign himself. He already has spent close to $5 million of his own money. Steelman has lent $500,000 to her campaign, including an $100,000 loan last week.
Steelman said in an interview Wednesday that she has had little choice since "I'm running against a millionaire."
But Steelman's allies appear to be jabbing back. According to PoliticMo, a pro-Steelman group -- the Now Or Never PAC -- on Thursday launched two new attack ads blasting Brunner's business record.
PoliticMo reports that the ads were airing on Kansas City stations. No word as to whether they will air in the St. Louis area as well.
The latest campaign-finance reports for the PAC show it with close to $500,000. The PAC's donors include wealthy retired financier Rex Sinquefield, who supports eliminating Missouri's income tax and replacing it with a higher sales tax.
(Start of update) The Brunner campaign contended that Now or Never's ads were "not just false but potentially illegal and slanderous" and hinted at possible legal action.
"It is hard to know how to respond given the lack of veracity or sourcing attached to any of the claims," said Brunner campaign manager Jon Seaton. "However, like Harry Reid, Claire McCaskill and Sarah Steelman, it now appears that Steelman's friends are joining the liberal chorus and attacking John Brunner's business success. Republican primary voters will reject these desperate smears, and meanwhile, our campaign attorneys are reviewing the advertising to consider the legal recourse with respect to the Now or Never PAC, and any stations who choose to air the ads." (End of update)
Click here to see a video of the chamber's ad against Steelman: