- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2022

LAS VEGAS — To get a taste of what it is like to live in a battleground state with high-stakes races on the ballot, all you have to do is turn on the TV for a few minutes in Las Vegas.

The multimillion dollar mudslinging playing out over the television airwaves from the candidates, their deep-pocketed allies and outside groups is suffocating.

Viewers are bombarded between breaks in local newscasts with attack ads that leave the impression their choices in key races boil down to deciding which of the candidates is saner and less corrupt.

Republicans are casting their rivals as corrupt left-wing radicals who are responsible for the rising cost of living and rising crime. 

Democrats are painting the other side as far-right election-denying radicals who are beholden to Big Oil and Big Pharma and bent on enacting abortion bans.

In a roughly 10-minute commercial break Thursday evening, viewers were treated to 17 ads. All but one were political, and only one of the political spots wasn’t an attack ad.

The deluge started with an ad from the House Majority PAC, the outside spending group linked to Speaker Nancy Pelosi featuring a man wearing medical scrubs. He tells viewers he treated victims of rape before warning Mark Robertson, the Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, “wants abortion banned nationwide.”

“Mark Robertson has no business mandating personal medical positions for women, it is just wrong,” he said.

The race in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District between Ms. Titus and Mr. Robertson, an Army veteran, is considered a toss-up.

The 10-minute commercial break closed with an attack ad the RGA Nevada super PAC is running on behalf of GOP gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo. It accuses Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak of giving “sweetheart deals” to his campaign donors, while “Nevada voters are getting hammered by rising costs.”

“Sisolak gets campaign cash, we get the shaft,” the narrator said in the spot.

The race between Mr. Sisolak, who is seeking a second term, and Mr. Lombardo, the Trump-backed sheriff of Clark County, is also rated a toss-up.

Sandwiched between those two ads were a barrage of other potshots and political putdowns, including Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto exchanging blows with Republican challenger Adam Laxalt.

“Catherine Cortez Masto rubber stamps Joe Biden’s reckless spending, triggering record inflation and sky-high prices,” the narrator said in an ad from the Senate Leadership Fund, which is aligned with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “Higher taxes and ridiculous spending, Catherine Cortez Masto is too costly for Nevada.”

Moments later, it was Ms. Cortez Masto’s turn.

Speaking directly into the camera, Ms. Cortez Masto, the most vulnerable Senate Democrat up for reelection, sounds the alarm on her foe’s abortion views.

“It is the most basic freedom for a person to have: the ability to make decisions about their own body,” she said. “But in one fell swoop, the Supreme Court stripped women of that right, setting our country back 50 years and now Mitch McConnell says he might go further, banning abortion nationwide, including here in Nevada. … I will always fight for a women’s right to make our own health care decisions, but Adam Laxalt won’t.” 

The constant political ads are great for the local stations, who are happy to get the extra revenue.

For avid TV viewers and those tuning in to catch a game or a show, it is a different story. A respite comes after the newscasts are over when ads for companies like Kohl’s, Google and Febreze start popping up to compete with the political content.

It all speaks to the tight-knit nature of the races in Nevada, where Democrats are scrambling to defend Ms. Cortez Masto’s seat, three seats in the House, and the governor’s mansion.

It also is a reminder that attack ads work.

During that 10-minute commercial break on Thursday, the only nonattack ad came from Mr. Sisolak. In that spot, he vows not to raise taxes.

Otherwise, viewers sat through negative spots tying the Republican attorney general candidate Sigal Chattah to a noose in a racist way, knocking Mr. Lombardo on abortion, and criticizing Ms. Titus for backing runaway spending that has exacerbated inflation.

“Dina Titus lit the match, spent big and we got burned,” the narrator said in the ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC tied to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat, and her Republican rival April Becker also got dinged in separate ads for being corrupt and a pro-life zealot, respectively.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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