Joe Donnelly Runs Stealth Facebook Ads Boosting Libertarian In Senate Race
In a tight contest, the strategy appears to be divide and conquer.
Indiana Democrats are funding a last-minute attempt to split the Republican vote in the state’s crucial Senate contest by boosting the race’s long-shot Libertarian candidate.
The state Democratic Party began purchasing Facebook ads on Thursday questioning the conservative bona fides of Republican challenger Mike Braun by, among other things, suggesting he backed Hillary Clinton in 2016. The ads, which encouraged voters to back Libertarian Party candidate Lucy Brenton, say they are “authorized by Donnelly for Indiana,” the campaign of incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly.
“Mike Braun will say anything to get elected, but the fact is that he was an active Democrat for decades, and voted to raise your taxes 159 times,” one of the ads reads. Libertarian Party candidate “Lucy Brenton is the true anti-tax conservative.”
That ad and half a dozen like it are being run on two pages titled Tax Hike Mike Braun and Hoosier Conservatives. Both pages were created on Wednesday and appear to be nothing but platforms for the Democratic ads they’re hosting, though neither says that it’s a project of state Democrats. Each of the ads links to Brenton’s campaign website.
Braun “likely vot[ed] for Hillary Clinton,” another one of the ads warns. “Vote your values on November 6.”
The advertisements appear to be an effort to split the Republican vote in a race that presents a prime GOP pickup pickup opportunity. A spokesperson for the Indiana Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ads.
Similar tactics are in play in other key Senate races, where Democratic-aligned groups have recently circulated direct mail pieces attacking Republican candidates and boosting their Libertarian opponents.