With Election Day just four days away, both Democrats and Republicans competing in local and statewide races are ramping up attack ads in the hopes of scaring Hoosiers away from voting for their opponents.
In the highly competitive State Senate District 31, which includes Fishers, Geist and parts of Lawrence, Republican incumbent Kyle Walker has tapped into his $1.5 million campaign war chest to send campaign mailers and air TV ads going after Democratic challenger Joceyln Vare for her record on police funding and her support of President Joe Biden.
Attack ads at this point in the election cycle are almost a given. “What is unusual though is spending for these kinds of ads in a state legislative race,” said Laura Merrifield Wilson, associate professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis.
In a recent TV ad paid for by Walker for Indiana, Vare is characterized as “an extreme liberal” who supported Joe Biden’s “reckless spending that gave us record inflation and exploded the deficit.” The ad also goes after Vare for her record on police funding.
In a video response, Vare said she supported the $25,000 request from the Fishers Police Department to purchase new gun racks but ultimately voted against it because the money came out of the citizens’ forfeiture fund and not from the city’s cash reserves.
Vare’s campaign launched its own attack ad last week, accusing Walker of voting to “defund public schools,” citing his support of the 2021 state budget that expanded the state’s voucher program. It also goes after Walker for his support of abortion restrictions. For the record, Walker voted against the near-total ban on abortions that the Legislature approved this year.
Outside groups have also poured advertising money into the race to support Walker, including the conservative group Americans for Prosperity and the Leadership for Indiana PAC.
National PAC helps fuel Carrasco campaign
While incumbent Democrat Ryan Mears seems to be keeping his promise that he won’t go negative in his race for Marion County Prosecutor against Republican Cyndi Carrasco, he’s being hit with a double whammy of negative ads in the homestretch.
A national PAC called the Protecting Americans Fund Action Project dropped $350,000 on an ad that claims Mears has “failed to keep us safe,” an ad buy first reported in Adam Wren’s Importantville newsletter.
The ad says Mears failed to prosecute a man that violently attacked his wife with a hammer, and the man later killed her. Like a previous commercial for Carrasco, it also mentions that he did not put a “red flag” on the FedEx shooter prior to the tragedy.
The Protecting Americans Fund Action Project was launched by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares in late March 2022. The PAC aims to get Republican “rule of law prosecutors” elected, according to the site.
Miyares told IBJ that where the PAC invests is determined on a case-to-case basis, but Indianapolis had made some national news and Carrasco’s resume was impressive.
“We saw and heard a lot of headlines about the spike in crime and the failures of the current district attorney, and that’s what got us interested,” he said.
In an ad released Wednesday, Carrasco’s campaign had the same talking points: the FedEx shooting and an increase in crime. Unlike her previous ads, she mentions her roles as a child of immigrants and a mom.
Secretary of state
Throughout her campaign for Secretary of State, Democrat Destiny Wells hasn’t shied away from going after Republican opponent Diego Morales.
In a TV ad paid for by Wells for Indiana, Morales is criticized for being “twice fired from the Secretary of State’s office” (he was actually fired once) and his support for expanding the state’s voter ID law.
Morales and his supporters, meanwhile, have refrained from launching any negative attacks against Wells, focusing instead on his military experience, his immigrant roots and his pledge to protect Indiana’s elections.
The Republican candidate has weathered a number of accusations during his campaign, including claims that he exaggerated his military experience and, more recently, that he may not have lived in the district he voted in back in 2018.
He’s also been accused of sexual misconduct by two Republicans who now support Wells’ campaign, allegations which he vehemently denies.
U.S. Senate race
The campaign of Hammond mayor and Democratic Senate hopeful Tom McDermott came out with an ad last week criticizing Republican Sen. Todd Young’s fiscal policy, blaming him and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for adding trillions to the national debt.
It also attacks Young for “taking millions from special interests to fund his campaign.”
The Young campaign’s latest and final ad before Election Day does not mention McDermott, but instead warns viewers that “communist China is the greatest threat” the country faces today.
“They steal our technology and jobs. They built their economy and military by ripping us off,” Young says. “So I wrote the CHIPS law to stop it.” The law provides
Young is seeking his second term in the Senate.
(IBJ reporter Taylor Wooten contributed to this story.)