A new super PAC run by a former Republican House candidate and financed by her campaign donors ran an ad during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate during which a picture of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was burned.
“Mine is the face of freedom,” declares Elizabeth Heng, who lost a congressional bid in California last year, in the 30-second spot. “My skin is not white. I’m not outrageous, or racist, or a socialist. I’m a Republican.”
The ad is the product of New Faces GOP PAC, an independent expenditure political group created in March. The group has raised about $170,000 so far, largely from a number of five-figure individual and corporate donors in California.
New Faces GOP appears to be purely a Heng-related venture. Of the group’s 22 publicly disclosed donors, Federal Election Commission records show that at least 13 of them also contributed to Heng’s 2018 congressional campaign, which she lost to Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) by 15 points.
New Faces GOP’s treasurer also ran the finances of Heng’s congressional campaign. The super PAC’s top vendor, Strategic Perception, also produced ads for the campaign.
Heng was widely viewed last year as a rising Republican star who could improve the party’s prospects with racial and ethnic communities that have generally sided with Democrats. During her campaign, Heng stressed her Cambodian roots—and her family’s persecution at the hands of the country’s brutal communist dictatorship before they fled to the United States.
In September 2018, a Wall Street Journal columnist even suggested that Heng could be “an Ocasio-Cortez for the GOP.”
It appears that Heng is eager to elevate that analogy. Thursday’s ad featured an image of Ocasio-Cortez that burns out from the center, imagery that quickly drew a comment from the congresswoman. “Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren’t racist,” she tweeted. “Life is weird!”
“Are you really calling me a racist @AOC?” Heng shot back. “I’m calling all Democrats out for supporting an evil ideology. Or are you just in Congress to hang out with celebrities and tweet out ridiculous ideas like the green new deal?”
The ad appears to be New Faces GOP’s effective public unveiling. Though it was officially formed in March, the group’s website was created two months later. Most of the files stored on the site were uploaded or created this month.