Republican group launches attack on Seals

Published9/24/2008 11:26 AM

A Republican campaign group stormed into a hotly contested Northwest suburban congressional race today with a "substantial" ad buy to help U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk.

Freedom's Watch, which has connections to former top advisers to President George Bush, launched a cable ad accusing challenger Dan Seals of wanting to raise taxes.


The ad urges viewers to call Seals and tell him, "High taxes cost us too much."

The Seals campaign released a statement saying, "Washington hit men will do or say anything to distract voters."

It was unclear until today whether Republican groups would come to Kirk's aid with any ferocity. The campaign wing for congressional Republicans is low on funds and trying to defend incumbents across the country.

On the other side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is flush with cash and has been running cable ads attacking Kirk in the district for weeks.

Freedom's Watch spokesman Tim Pearson declined to talk specific strategy, but he said it was "fair to say" the organization would remain in the race until Election Day. Pearson said the ad buy was "substantial," but he would not provide specifics.

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Having gone for Democratic presidential candidates and Barack Obama in the past, the 10th District is considered Democratic-leaning.

Seals, a Wilmette businessman, is making his second run at Kirk having garnered 47 percent of the vote in 2006.

Pearson said the entrance of Freedom's Watch into the race will appeal to moderates as well as the GOP faithful.

"Nobody likes higher taxes and that is what we are talking about," Pearson said.

Freedom's Watch entered the political scene in the summer of 2007, running controversial ads to drum up support for the Iraq war.

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and other key Bush aides have had a controlling role in the organization, which does not have to report donors under federal campaign laws.

Some of the group's first ads featured Iraq war veterans directly linking that country to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The anti-Seals ad, which doesn't mention Kirk, is one of five Freedom's Watch put up today. The others are running in congressional districts in New Jersey, New Mexico and Nevada. Freedom's Watch is also playing a role in Oregon and Colorado Senate races.

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