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Pro-Sheehy super PAC launches $4M ad buy in Montana Senate race

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Montana Republican Tim Sheehy is getting some key backup in his bid to oust Sen. Jon Tester.

More Jobs, Less Government, a super PAC with ties to Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), is launching a $4 million TV and digital ad buy Wednesday that will run for about a month. A radio component will begin July 10. The campaign has four spots that yoke Tester to both President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Tester has one of the tallest political tasks this cycle: Win reelection in a state that Donald Trump won handily in 2016 and 2020 and is likely to win again. To pull it off, Tester will need to create some distance from the national Democratic Party and its unpopular presidential nominee. Republicans are seeking to use Tester’s party affiliation to sink his reelection bid.

The super PAC’s internal polling shows why: In an early June poll of 500 likely voters conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, Sheehy led Tester 46 to 43 percent, with the Libertarian candidate pulling 4 percent. That’s within the margin of error of 4.38 percentage points. In a two-way race, Sheehy and Tester polled evenly at 48 percent.

Tester fared better than a generic Democrat, with voters saying they preferred a Republican to a Democratic senator 52 percent to 40 percent. But Trump also led Biden in Montana, 54 percent to 36 percent.

The new spots attempt to nationalize the race. They warn that Tester supports Schumer as Senate majority leader and endorsed Biden for president. One uses footage of Biden praising Tester and another features video of Tester expressing confidence in Biden’s mental acuity.

“Jon Tester pretends to be a moderate when he’s campaigning for reelection in Montana, but in Washington, D.C., he votes with Joe Biden 95 percent of the time and wants to keep left-wing New York Senator Chuck Schumer in control of the U.S. Senate,” said Andy Surabian, the lead strategist for the super PAC.

More Jobs, Less Government was up with a seven-figure buy earlier this year slamming Tester’s opposition to the border wall.

Sheehy could use the outside help. Tester and allied groups have been greatly outspending Republicans on ads over the past two months. Since April 1, Democrats have spent $21.6 million, while Sheehy and his GOP supporters have spent $12.8 million, according to the media tracking firm AdImpact.