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Parties fight over infrastructure bill attack ad in Nevada


By SAM METZ AP / Report for America

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A year before the 2022 election, a fight over an attack ad airing on local television in Nevada is pointing to challenges both parties may face attempting to turn the debate over an infrastructure bill in Congress into campaign fodder.

KTVN, the Reno-based CBS affiliate, on Wednesday morning took the rare step of agreeing to take a political ad off the air after Senate Republicans called it inaccurate and threatened legal action. After a back-and-forth with both parties, the station decided to put it back on later in the day, according to an email its general manager sent Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC.

The segment, which is also airing on other channels, is the cycle’s first from the political action committee of Senate Democrats. It targets Adam Laxalt, the Republican former state Attorney General whose race against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is expected to be among next year’s most contested.

The ad says Laxalt is “opposing relief for Nevada’s economy, (saying) no to lower prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare. He even opposes the expanded child tax credit for working parents.”

Laxalt has said he opposes the infrastructure bill and criticized its cost but hasn’t commented on economic relief, prescription drugs or child tax credits.

In an Oct. 22 letter to stations demanding the ad be taken off air, the National Republican Senatorial Committee argued it wasn’t accurate to extrapolate conclusions about specific provisions in the bill — especially when Democrats are still fighting over provisions including drug pricing and child tax credits.

Attorneys for Democrats countered that it was fair and accurate to describe opposition to a proposal by detailing its contents.

Battleground states like Nevada are accustomed to ads containing spin, but when attempted, campaigns claiming inaccuracy rarely succeed at getting them off air, both parties say.

Laxalt said in a statement that the ad reflects how Cortez Masto and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “will say anything to win this race, no matter if it aligns with the facts or not.”

Democrats said efforts to remove the ad reflect the popularity of the components referenced.

“This takedown letter makes clear that the NRSC is acutely aware of the political risks for their candidates and incumbents opposing widely popular policies,” said Brad Bainum, a spokesman for the Democratic Party-aligned PAC American Bridge.

When asked by The Associated Press, Laxalt didn’t say if he supported expanded child tax credits or prescription drug pricing proposals like allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.

“The ad falsely suggests that he is standing in the way of hypothetical bills that have yet to reach the floor of the Senate for a vote,” said John Burke, his spokesman.

Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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