New AFP Ads Target Landrieu, Pryor

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) holds a list of jobs she said has been idled, while talking with reporters after the weekly Democratic caucus policy meeting at the U.S. Capitol September 20, 2011 in Washington, DC. Landrieu said that Senate Republicans are holding up disaster relief legislation that could put thousands of people back to work.National Journal

A new ad airing this week from Americans for Prosperity criticizes Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu for failing to fix the scandal in the Veterans Affairs Department before implementing Obamacare, a novel tactic from the conservative third-party group as it seeks different ways to attack Democrats over the health care law.

The ad is part of AFP's new three-week, $940,000 TV and digital campaign in Louisiana, an effort that also includes another 30-second spot mocking Landrieu's inability to block new energy regulations. The group is also launching a three-week, $920,000 ad campaign in Arkansas against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, targeting his support of President Obama.

Combined, the nearly million-dollar buys in both states constitute one of AFP's largest single investments in the 2014 midterm elections for a group that's already spent tens of millions of dollars this cycle helping Republicans take the Senate. The ads, shared first with National Journal, also mark a continuing evolution for AFP as it begins more to focus more frequently on issues other than Obamacare to attack Democrats.

The spot likely to draw the most attention is AFP's criticism over the VA scandal, in which veterans at some of the department's facilities died waiting for medical care. It's notable not only for being one of the first ads to directly mention the VA controversy, but also for the new approach it takes to hammering Landrieu over her support of Obamacare.

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"If the government can't run health care for 8 million veterans, how can Obamacare possibly work for the entire country? Tell Mary Landrieu to fix health care for veterans before forcing Obamacare on the rest of the country."

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Some Republicans, including leaders at AFP, have been concerned that a relentless focus on Obamacare in the last three election cycles has made some voters tune out the issue. Using the VA scandal — a politically potent issue all on its own — to attack Obamacare is a new approach the group hopes will break through even to voters with hardened opinions on the heath care law.

"Unfortunately, Obamacare is only one of the ways that big government is hurting Louisiana" said AFP's Louisiana director, Phillip Joffrion, in a statement. "When it comes to the crushing EPA regulations coming down the pike, there's been no movement from the Senate to make sure we don't lose good energy-sector jobs or have to worry about whether we can afford to touch the thermostat during a hot summer. When it comes to the problems at Veterans Affairs, it's just one more warning signal: More government is not the way to get affordable care from the doctors we trust."

The group's other Louisiana ad — titled "Clout" — targets Landrieu's chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, alleging that she was unable to stop the president from instituting new rules at the Environmental Protection Agency designed to curb carbon emissions. The three-term senator has made her support of the oil and gas business, a major industry in the Pelican State, central to her candidacy, arguing that voters need her in Washington to protect Louisiana from lawmakers who would do it harm.

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AFP's ad against Pryor criticizes the senator for rising gas and grocery bills, suggesting that his support of Obama's agenda has made life harder for everyday citizens.

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