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The Biggest Democrat Campaign Ad Fails Of The Midterms


by Evie Fordham

  • 2018’s midterm elections are on track to be the most expensive ever, with much of that money going toward ads.
  • Democratic senators like Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill, and Republican Senate candidate John James all ran ads that backfired.
  • Some of these ads may have been better off cut out of the budget after the fact checkers finished with them.

Candidates have spent major money on advertisements to tell voters why they are the right choice — in fact, the Center for Responsive Politics predicted Monday that Democrats and Republicans will spend more than $5.2 billion this election cycle, making it the most expensive ever.

However, these politicians might wish they had not wasted funds on these ads.

Heidi Heitkamp’s Ad Gets A Politifact Takedown

Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp ran an ad claiming that her Republican challenger Kevin Cramer gave himself a $23,000 raise while serving on the state’s Public Service Commission. PolitiFact rated the claim “False” Oct. 8.


“Cramer did get raises totalling that amount. But the ad completely distorts Cramer’s hand in securing the pay increase,” PolitiFact explained.

North Dakota’s governor collaborates with the state Office of Management and Budget to establish commissioners’ salaries, which are approved by the Legislative Assembly, according to PolitiFact. Other officials including North Dakota’s governor, secretary of state and state auditor received proportionally similar pay hikes. (RELATED: The Midterm Elections Are One Week From Today — Here’s What You Can Expect)

Cramer is currently polling about 12 points above Heitkamp, according to RealClear Politics.

Claire McCaskill’s “Crazy Democrats” Line Backfires

Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign ran a radio ad with a line claiming she’s “not one of those crazy Democrats” — and it got more attention than she may have anticipated.

Fox News Host Bret Baier asked her to name examples of crazy Democrats during an interview Monday. She called out Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, saying that Warren “sure went after me” and that she “certainly” disagrees with Sanders “on a bunch of stuff.”


McCaskill also referred to a state senator who called for President Donald Trump’s assassination as a crazy Democrat. Missouri Democratic state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal shot back Monday and Tuesday by calling McCaskill a “piece of s–t” and “Dixie Claire.”

Republican candidate Josh Hawley has a slight edge on McCaskill, according to RealClear Politics.

Andrew Kim Gets Two Pinocchios

The Washington Post Fact Checker gave New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate Andrew Kim two Pinocchios, a rating that denotes “significant omissions and/or exaggerations,” for an ad that “stretches his resume to elastic extremes” on Sept. 10.

“What is service? … It’s a kid from Marlton who became a national security officer for Republican and Democratic presidents and worked in Afghanistan under Generals Petraeus and Allen,” Kim said in the ad.


WaPo dinged Kim for making his job history sound more bipartisan than it really is. The work for a Republican president that Kim claims in the ad was really five months at an “entry-level position” in 2005, according to WaPo, which called the ad “a classic case of resume puffery.”

His resume shows he also worked as a director for Iraq issues on the National Security Council in the Obama administration.

Kim is polling neck-and-neck with Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur, according to RealClear Politics. MacArthur called out Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff in October after Schiff accused MacArthur of racism toward Kim, who is Korean-American.

However, the MacArthur campaign was also dinged by WaPo for distorting the fact check story after the Republican ran attack ads implying Kim lied about serving in the military and based the claims on the WaPo Fact Checker. 

Schiff failed to note that MacArthur and his wife adopted two children from South Korea and have a Korean-American granddaughter, MacArthur told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Debbie Stabenow And John James Post Videos With Praise From The Same Michigan Businessman

Democratic Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow posted a video ad featuring a Kalamazoo, Michigan, businessman on Oct. 29. John James responded to the ad hours later with a previously recorded video containing praise from the same man, Tim Suprise of Arcadia Ales.

“If you’re paying attention to the United States Senate race for Michigan, you need to look at the leadership, the experience and, I believe, the kind of presence that we need in Washington in John James,” Suprise said in James’s video.

Suprise never technically endorsed either candidate.

It’s unclear when Stabenow’s team recorded Suprise’s video. The James campaign recorded Suprise on Oct. 22.

Suprise discussed how Stabenow’s stance toward small businesses has “mattered tremendously” to him and his employees in the Democrat’s video.

Stabenow is polling about 10 points above James, according to RealClear Politics.

James’ first campaign ad of the general election also included “footage of a school hallway with a bulletin board full papers — one of which appears to be printed with a swastika symbol,” according to CBS News. The candidate pulled the ad and apologized.

Abigail Spanberger Mislabels A Photo Of Congressmen As Dave Brat’s “Donors”

Virginia Democratic congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger ran a still ad with a photo of Republican Virginia Rep. Dave Brat laughing with two suit-clad men whose faces were obscured by black boxes.

“Brat serves his donors. Not us,” the ad claimed.

However, the unedited photo shows Brat with fellow Republicans Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington and Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell, not donors.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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