PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The National Republican Senatorial Committee plans to reserve $1 million worth of television advertising time in South Dakota, a spokeswoman for the committee said Saturday, days after national Democrats announced the same.
The investment from the fundraising committee will go toward backing former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who has been heavily favored in a race for an open U.S. Senate seat that has grown more competitive in recent weeks.
Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the committee, said it bought $750,000 in airtime Friday night and plans to buy more. The ads will begin airing Tuesday and continue through Nov. 3.
The announcement comes after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee laid out plans to spend $1 million in support of Democratic candidate Rick Weiland.
Needing to pick up six seats to regain control of the chamber, Republicans have banked on winning conservative South Dakota, but the move by the national Democrats was a sign the party sees some hope of derailing Rounds.
Also in the fray is former U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler, an independent who served for three terms in the Senate and two terms in the U.S. House as a Republican.
Hougesen said the committee feels Republicans can still take the South Dakota Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson.
"Gov. Rounds is well positioned to win the race, but we are not going to allow Harry Reid and Democrats in Washington to flood the airwaves with lies about him," Hougesen said in a statement.
Rounds has faced criticism for a state-run, federal visa program called EB-5 that was administered while he was governor. The program encouraged private investment by foreign nationals to create jobs in rural parts of South Dakota. In exchange, investors received a visa that allowed them to live in the U.S.
Democrats say the program didn't create the promised jobs and was run poorly by a Rounds appointee. They say it threatened to become costly to the state when a California company sued South Dakota in 2008, alleging a breach of its contract to recruit Chinese investors.
That lawsuit was thrown out this past week and South Dakota was cleared of any liability.