Democratic groups pile on Corbett early

    I’m not surprised that the Pennsylvania governor’s race has devolved into attack ads, though I confess I didn’t expect to see millions of dollars in ad buys in July, three and a half months before the election.

    And I’m not surprised in this post-Citizens United world that we see attack ads funded by “independent expenditure” groups which can take unlimited corporate and union contributions to whack whomever they choose.

    But it’s interesting that so far at least, the big assaults have come not from the Koch brothers or the Karl Rove-associated groups that get so much national attention, but from Democratic groups attacking Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

    The 30-second spot above is produced by a group formed earlier this year called Pa. Families First, funded by the Democratic Governors’ Association and several public employee unions.

    But they’re not the first  independent group to get into the race on behalf of Democrat Tom Wolf. There’s a separate, 60-second ad attacking Corbett from NextGen Climate, the organization funded by billionaire Tom Steyer (isn’t it weird that everybody in this story is a Tom?).

    The Pa. Families First ad features a woman talking about Corbett’s billion-dollar cut to education, saying he “does not understand the effect it has on children.” An announcer says Corbett’s cuts have forced local school districts to lay off 20,000 people and made governments to raise property taxes.

    The Corbett campaign says the ads have it wrong, that the governor has supported schools, and that public employee unions backing Wolf have created fiscal strains on school budgets.You can see the material Pa. Families First provided for the claims in its ad here, and the Corbett campaign’s responses here.

    I’m sure we’ll see plenty more independent expenditure ads in the campaigns, and I imagine the conservative groups will be heard from before long.

    Soon, I’ll write about what to expect in the Philadelphia mayors race next year.

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