WASHINGTON — In the first ads of New York’s Senate election, Sen. Chuck Schumer blanketed Buffalo over the weekend with a spot crediting him for keeping the Bills football team in town, and a conservative super PAC began airing a two-minute video attacking him as an “extremist.”
The dueling ad buys signal that with just a little more than month to go until the Nov. 8 general election, the re-election campaign of New York’s senior Democratic senator has begun in earnest against his Republican challenger, Wendy Long, a Manhattan lawyer and conservative activist.
Long, who has said she likely won’t have the funds to run her own TV ads, hailed the super PAC in a news release on Sunday before it was reported to the Federal Election Commission.
“We just learned that a super PAC is launching ads attacking Schumer! This shows our campaign is on the right track,” Long said.
Long, who trails Schumer in polls by double digits, also announced on Monday that the anti-abortion group National Right to Life and the New York Federation of Republican Women have endorsed her.
Schumer put up two ads, one of which featured former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly boosting Schumer. The other touts Schumer’s role in securing billions of federal dollars to help rebuild after a series of disasters that ranged from 9/11 to superstorm Sandy.
Schumer campaign spokesman Matt House wouldn’t detail the ads’ cost, duration or markets. Nor would he comment on the super PAC ad attacking Schumer.
But the Schumer campaign’s contracts with the TV stations as reported on a Federal Communications Commission website show it will spend at least $210,000 to air ads from Sept. 26 through Oct. 10 in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
Meanwhile, a super PAC called America Is Worth It reported on Monday it had made the first independent expenditure against Schumer in the race.
Its report to the Federal Election Commission said it spent $18,000 to produce and $21,600 to air a two-minute ad that attacks news media along with Schumer.
The ad blames “media bosses” for suppressing the news and preventing reporters from presenting the facts. It also links Schumer to what it calls “extremists” such as billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton and Black Lives Matter.
The PAC’s spokesman, George Landrith, said in an interview Tuesday that the ad is running in the Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo media markets. “That’s the first wave. We will do more and hope to expand in future,” he said.
The super PAC, which was created in August, raised $43,000 in August and September from its only contributor, the Institute on Government and Media Integrity, a nonprofit that did not disclose its donors.
The nonprofit was created in June 2015, Virginia business records show, with an address at the Washington D.C. offices of the law firm Webster, Chamberlain & Bean LLP, where several conservative PACs and nonprofits are based.
Landrith, president of the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, a conservative nonprofit in Fairfax, Virginia, described the donors as “just group of concerned folks” who are “frustrated with where the country is headed” and the “collapse of journalism.”