WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Democrats' campaign committee on Tuesday released an ad that criticizes Republican Leader Mitch McConnell as spending three decades amassing wealth in Washington while his Kentucky constituents struggled.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's return to Kentucky airwaves comes two weeks after it ditched its ad budget there and almost a week after it promised to return to television to help the Democratic nominee, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Senate candidates and their allies have spent more than $71 million on the race, among the most costly and competitive in the country.
Hoping to tilt the race in Grimes' favor, the DSCC ad aims at voters' frustration with Washington and with Kentucky's struggling economy.
"After 30 years, it just feels like Mitch is making his job work for him — and not us," former teacher Estelle Bayer says in the 30-second ad.
Democrats note that when McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984, he was worth as much as $105,000. His 2013 financial disclosure reports indicate he and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, were worth as much as $37 million.
Much of that, however, came from his wife's inheritance.
The ad's star, the former teacher, says McConnell voted for pay hikes for lawmakers six times but opposed increasing the federal minimum wage.
Democrats said McConnell voted 17 times against such increases since 1989.
McConnell has been criticizing Grimes over the minimum wage, which she wants to raise. "The restaurant owned by Grimes' family doesn't always practice what she preaches," a 30-second McConnell ad notes, quoting a news report about some workers at Hugh Jass Burgers who earn $2.13 an hour, before tips.
Grimes' defense: "My family is not in this race. I'm on the ballot."
The DSCC was a latecomer to the Senate race's busy airwaves. Almost $31 million in ads have been aired, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity's analysis of media tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG. Of that, the DSCC was only involved in ads worth $1.8 million.
That late push comes as polls show McConnell and Grimes locked in a tight contest, and Democrats nationally trying to push back Republicans. If the GOP can pick up six seats, it will claim a majority in the Senate for the first time since the 2006 elections.
Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott