Koch Bros. Group Targets Strickland in Ohio’s U.S. Senate Race

A group funded by billionaire conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch has jumped into Ohio’s 2016 U.S. Senate race with a series of new ads bashing Democratic candidate and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

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A group funded by billionaire conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch has jumped into Ohio’s 2016 U.S. Senate race with a series of new ads bashing Democratic candidate and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

The $1.4 million in ad buys by the Americans for Prosperity Political Action Committee signals the importance of the race between Strickland, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the seat, and incumbent Republican Rob Portman. There will likely be a pitched battle for that seat as both parties struggle for control of the Senate and for the upper hand in Ohio, a vital state for the 2016 presidential election.

The ad, which will run in all major Ohio media markets, features a man named Bruce, identified as a father of five from Wilmington, Ohio. The man speaks about losing his job at DHL, a shipping logistics company which laid off 4,500 employees when it moved to Kentucky in 2008.

“We had such devastation and job loss when Ted Strickland was governor,” the man says. The ad goes on to accuse Strickland of costing the state more than 400,000 jobs during his tenure as governor from 2007-2011, during the depths of the great recession.

Conservatives pin Ohio’s job losses on Strickland’s policies, while his supporters point out that many states across the country were shedding jobs during the period of great fiscal distress. While employment has increased under Republican Gov. John Kasich, Ohio still lags behind the national average when it comes to job growth.

Americans for Prosperity is one of the country’s largest and most active conservative PACs, which are outside political groups governed by special rules. PACs can take unlimited money from anonymous donors but can’t coordinate with specific candidates on their messaging. The ad is an unusually straightforward message, singling out Strickland and asking voters not to elect him. Generally, Americans for Prosperity airs ads that are more issues-based and less focused on individual candidates. The group advocates for slashing government spending, limiting or eliminating government regulations on businesses and other conservative priorities.

The ad is part of a multi-million dollar blitz this year by conservative groups and the Republican Party in Ohio, an attempt to sway the state toward the GOP for the 2016 presidential election and to chisel into Strickland’s strong polling numbers here, where he leads incumbent Portman by a large margin in most polls.

While Portman trails Strickland in the polls, he has a much larger campaign war chest to work with. Portman raised almost $3 million last quarter, according to campaign finance reports. Strickland raised only $1 million.

Strickland is the favorite in the Democratic primary, where he’s competing against Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.

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