Negativity in Senate Races Is 'Overwhelming'

Nastiness on display in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin races
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2022 7:39 AM CDT
Negativity in Senate Races Is 'Overwhelming'
US Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., left, and his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes wait for start of a televised debate, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Senate candidates in battleground states are facing an onslaught of ads attacking everything from their character to their preferred sports teams, showing negative campaign tactics have risen "to a new level" this year, the Hill reports. "You turn on the TV, it's overwhelming with the negativity," Nevada-based political consultant Kami Dempsey-Goudie tells the outlet. Alabama GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who rallied with former President Trump in Nevada for GOP candidate Adam Laxalt over the weekend, claimed Democrats were pro-crime "because they want to take over what you got." In a comment widely panned as racist, he added Democrats back reparations for slavery "because they think the people that do the crime are owed that."

On the other side, incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto has painted Laxalt as an extremist who embraced false claims of widespread election fraud and will do so again if he loses in November. She's also attacked his past, from run-ins with cops as a teenager to "flunking out of college." In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has put out ads portraying Republican opponent Mehmet Oz as a quack doctor and a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the "most hated NFC East rival" of the Philadelphia Eagles, per the New York Post. Meanwhile, "the Republican National Committee is quick to tweet out audio and video clips of Fetterman's misstatements or mispronunciations to highlight his trouble speaking since suffering a stroke," per the Hill.

Personal negative ads are also on display in Georgia, spotlighting accusations of domestic violence and abortion against Republican candidate Herschel Walker and a 2020 marital dispute between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his ex-wife, reports the New York Times. In Wisconsin, the Wesleyan Media Project found 90% of ads in support of GOP Sen. Ron Johnson focus on attacking Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, per the Hill. And they've been "remarkably effective," having "tanked Mr. Barnes's standing, particularly among the state's finicky independent voters," the Times reports. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, tells the Hill that the races are "brutal" overall. But "control of the Senate is at hand." (Read more Senate race stories.)

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