Don’t Look Now, But The Closest U.S. Senate Race Just Got Dirtier


As sure as the changing of the leaves, janky jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin spice lattes, these final weeks of October mark a shift in the political calendar — as across the tightest political races, a final cascade of opposition research and mudslinging rain down. We have officially entered the kitchen-sink stage of the election season.

In Georgia’s governor race, a voter suppression lawsuit against Republican Brian Kemp vies for headlines against a video where critics say Democrat Stacey Abrams is telling undocumented immigrants to vote. In North Dakota, undercover conservative activists from Project Veritas surreptitiously recorded a campaign staffer for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp saying she would be “super liberal” if elected. But it’s in Missouri, in the contest between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, where you can expect the biggest fireworks between now and Election Day. 

In addition, the gun control group Giffords and the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission on Monday, accusing the Hawley campaign of illegally coordinating with the National Rifle Association’s PAC on a series of television ads, including having the same person place ads for both the Senate campaign and the PAC at the same TV station on the same day. Campaigns and PACs aren’t legally allowed to coordinate, and when campaigns and outside groups use the same consulting firms, they are supposed to keep their activities separate with a so-called firewall.

“It’s impossible that an individual employee can create a firewall in his brain,” Brendan Fischer, director of the Campaign Legal Center, told McClatchy. “These facts suggest an elaborate scheme designed to evade detection of violations,” the plaintiffs wrote in the complaint. Hawley spokeswoman Kelli Ford called them ”desperate and frivolous complaints” backed by a “radical anti-gun group.”

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