The Indiana Senate seat was considered a safe one for the GOP just a few short weeks ago. That's until Evan Bayh, a former U.S. senator and governor, announced his candidacy. The well-known Indiana Democrat threw Republicans for a loop when he decided to leap back into politics and enter the hoosier state race in July.
Now a handful of super PACs and outside groups are funneling money into the state to fight Mr. Bayh and support lesser-known Republican Rep. Todd Young.
In just two months, nearly $4.6 million worth of Koch Brothers money and cash from other conservative groups has been plowed into Indiana in the hopes of defeating Mr. Bayh. In August, the National Republican Senatorial Committee dropped more than $640,000 on digital and other media buys attacking the senator turned financial industry board member, according to Ad Age's analysis of recent Federal Election Commission reports.
One recent TV spot from the NRSC paints Mr. Bayh as more loyal to Washington, D.C., than Indiana, claiming his charitable foundation stopped contributions to Indiana charities and instead gave to the Clinton Foundation. Mr. Bayh was "stiffing hoosiers who suffered to pad Clinton's slush fund," declares the ad. Another NRSC spot attacks him for supporting Obamacare and voting to allow social security benefits for illegal immigrants.
The influx of super PAC money in Indiana reflects a broader trend this election cycle during which more money is flowing toward Senate races than the presidential election. According to a Bloomberg Politics analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data showing broadcast and cable TV spending by political advertisers, $129.3 million was spent through the end of August in 18 Senate races, compared with $128.4 million in the presidential race.
The biggest outside spenders opposing Mr. Bayh were Americans for Prosperity, the Chamber of Commerce and Freedom Partners Action Fund. Each spent more than $1 million to fight Bayh's campaign to rejoin the Senate. The Chamber of Commerce spent $1.5 million in August; Americans for Prosperity spent $1.4 million in August on digital and TV ads, phone banking and direct mail; Freedom Partners spent around $1 million on TV and digital ads.
Koch Brothers-affiliated conservative PAC Freedom Partners, which has publicly refused to support GOP nominee Donald Trump, is also attacking Mr. Bayh as a Washington insider who ignores Indiana. A July TV spot from the group blames him for voting for the Wall Street bailout before leaving office to join the financial private sector.