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Koch network to run $5 million US Senate campaign ad barrage

The political and policy network led by billionaire Charles Koch is planning to spend more than $5 million on a new advertising campaign to help Republican Senate candidates in Wisconsin, Missouri and Tennessee, three states critical to keeping or expanding GOP control of the chamber.

The ad barrage will be released as the midterm congressional campaign is entering the homestretch with Republicans fighting to hold their narrow majority in the Senate and trying to fend off a Democratic surge that threatens their control of the House. The spots are scheduled to start Thursday, Aug. 30, and run for three weeks.

The ads are critical of Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, as well as Phil Bredesen, a former governor who is the party's Senate nominee in Tennessee. Baldwin and McCaskill represent two of the 10 states won in 2016 by President Donald Trump where Senate Democrats are running for re-election. Trump also won in Tennessee, where the Senate seat was opened by the retirement of Bob Corker.

Ads across the three states will be sponsored by Koch's flagship political organization, Americans for Prosperity. Another Koch-affiliated group, Concerned Veterans for America, will also run spots in Wisconsin.

"Americans can't afford to continue electing politicians who believe the path to prosperity is through higher taxes, more spending, and bigger government," AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement.

AFP said the spending will total $2.1 million in Missouri, $2 million in Tennessee and $1.6 million in Wisconsin.

Earlier in the year, network officials had said they planned to finish their midterm advertising by the end of June, before focusing on get-out-the-vote efforts in the 36 states where it has organized grassroots activists. The new ad spending on individual races amounts to a change in tactics.

The ads are part of the roughly $400 million Koch-affiliate groups plan to spend on state and federal policy and politics during the two-year cycle that culminates with November's balloting, a 60 percent increase over 2015-16. Besides trying to influence electoral politics, the organization also works on education, criminal justice, workforce and poverty issues.

This article was written by John McCormick, a reporter for The Washington Post.