Senator McCaskill Takes on the Super PACs

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screenshots from Senator Claire McCaskill's first 2012 campaign ad

Scenes from Sen. Claire McCaskill's first 2012 campaign ad

Senator Claire McCaskill’s first television ad in her bid for re-election fights back against a formidable opponent — super PACs.

Conservative super PACs such as Crossroads GPS — founded by Karl Rove and funded by undisclosed donors — have already spent more than $3 million on TV and radio ads in Missouri, a state that has swung to the right in the six years since McCaskill, a moderate Democrat, won her seat by less than 3 percentage points.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported over the weekend that the race for McCaskill’s seat is of national interest because it’s one of eight states with presumptive or opposing Senate candidates less than 5 percentage points apart in polling. The close race is attracting outside money to both parties’ campaign coffers.

“I think I’m at the top of a lot of folks’ list, and I’m really trying to turn it,” McCaskill told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “I’m gonna let Missourians know — if you don’t know who’s paying for it, don’t believe a word of it.”

The Washington Post calls McCaskill’s plan to target the super PACs “unconventional and risky.”

Standard practice suggests that voters are rarely interested in arguments over campaign finances, particularly in the face of a tough economy and a political system awash in money on both sides. But McCaskill is betting she can turn the millions spent against her into an advantage, a sign of her political independence….The McCaskill campaign will provide a key national test of whether too much money can be a disadvantage in a political campaign in 2012, particularly when McCaskill herself will be the beneficiary of some of the same kind of outside spending she criticizes.

McCaskill believes that Missourians will sympathize with her fight against special interests.

“I’m asking regular folks to be my ‘super PAC,’” she told Matthews. “On, people can give 25 bucks. If we get a lot of those, we’ll have our own ‘super PAC’, and that’s the kind of PAC that should be ‘super,’ made up of regular people giving small amounts.”

Three Republicans are currently vying to oppose McCaskill in November, including former state treasurer Sarah Steelman.

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