Local statehouse races have seen an infusion of outside spending in recent weeks as Election Day nears as seen by ads playing on radio and television.
Two Super PACS — Kentucky Tomorrow Inc. and Kentuckians for Strong Leadership — are running several radio and TV ads in opposition of state Reps. Jeff Greer and Dean Schamore, two Democratic incumbents, and in support of their opponents. Political action committees cannot legally coordinate with candidates.
“There’s nothing I can do to them,” said Schamore, a Hardinsburg Democrat representing the 10th District. “No one sees a face to Kentucky Tomorrow.”
Greer, a Brandenburg Democrat who represents the 27th District, said he was expecting super PAC opposition after he voted against measures backed by Gov. Matt Bevin, including pension reform.
“Those of us who stood up for labor and education are in his crosshairs,” said Greer.
According to the Associated Press, Bevin has been helping Kentucky Tomorrow pay for radio ads in competitive House Districts. The committee has brought in $175,000 since Jan. 1, 2017, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
In Kentucky, individual donations to a candidate are capped at $2,000. However, a 2010 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allows political action committees to accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, associations and labor unions.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has raised about $550,939 since Jan. 1, 2017, according to the FEC filings. It’s the primary Republican super PAC in Kentucky since it was formed in 2014, according to the Courier Journal.
Kentucky Tomorrow has paid for several attack ads against local Democrats. One ad against Greer refers to him as “Greedy Jeff Greer.”
“In the local area, we have not seen this nastiness before,” Greer said. “It’s the way elections are starting to go. I don’t like it, but we’ll see.”
Nancy Tate, a UPS employee from Brandenburg, is running against the six-term representative. She said she was not anticipating outside support but it demonstrates how much support she has.
“I was pleasantly pleased,” she said.
She added that she also has been the subject of negative ads.
“It’s something none of us like,” she said.
Kentucky Tomorrow also has supported Republican candidate Josh Calloway, who is running against Schamore, a two-term representative.
Calloway said he didn’t know who the groups were and has not heard the negative ads against Schamore. He said he has tried to stay focused on the principles he ran on and not be personal.
“On Wednesday, I want to know I did what’s right,” he said.
Calloway recently received presidential support from President Donald J. Trump in the form of recorded ads and robocalls.
Calloway said the PAC support highlights how his principles are aligned with state leadership. He added he’s received his share of negativity on social media.
Although Tate and Calloway appear to have received more outside support, Greer and Schamore have raised more money. Both have more than $48,000 on hand as of Oct. 22, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance records. They’ve also received more direct contributions from political action committees.
Tate has more than $12,000 and Calloway has more than $19,000 as of Oct. 22. This is the first year either have run for state representative.
Schamore said these groups have a lot of money and in the final days of the campaign, he’s trying to stay positive.
“It puts a lot of static out there and prevents people from talking about the issues,” he said, adding he’s running more radio ads in response.
Greer said he didn’t think the outside ads were resonating with voters, but he’ll see on Election Day how it worked.
Calloway echoed Greer.
“It’s in the voters’ hands,” he said.