Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has released a new campaign ad painting her Republican opponent, Tiffany Smiley, as a MAGA extremist ― a strategy gaining popularity among Democrats seeking to maintain control of the U.S. House and Senate this November.
The 30-second spot, set to air on TVs across Washington state this weekend, features former Army Capt. Chris Franco speaking to the camera about how “MAGA Republicans” like Smiley are an existential threat for American democracy.
“I proudly served our nation and fought for freedom abroad,” Franco, who is from Renton, Washington, says into the camera before the ad cuts to footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. “I never expected to see our temple of democracy ransacked here at home.”
“It’s so dangerous that MAGA Republicans like Mitch McConnell handpicked candidate Tiffany Smiley continue to question the 2020 election,” Franco says, referring to the Senate minority leader. “Their big lie is a direct threat to our elections and our democracy. Join me in defending America. Say no to Tiffany Smiley before it is too late.”
Smiley, a nurse and motivational speaker, is in a tight general election battle with Murray, a five-term incumbent, in a race seen as crucial to the balance of power in Washington, D.C.
The Republican has appeared to moderate her more hardline positions since advancing in last month’s primary, namely those related to the 2020 election. Smiley recently scrubbed her campaign website’s “ELECTION INTEGRITY” section, which parroted lies pushed by former President Donald Trump about voter fraud.
Smiley has been photographed with Trump and previously said it would be “awesome” to receive the former president’s endorsement. When CNN’s Dana Bash pressed her during an interview last week about whether President Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, Smiley did her best to sidestep the question, acknowledging that Biden is the president without commenting on Trump’s accusations that the election was stolen.
Smiley is slated to speak at a GOP event in Yakima County, Washington, this weekend alongside Dinesh D’Souza, the bunk historian and election conspiracist. D’Souza’s debunked “documentary” about the 2020 election, “2,000 Mules,” will be screened at the event.
“The campaign has no control over who the Yakima Republican Party invites to their events,” Smiley spokesman Cale Ottens told HuffPost in a statement.
“The fact that a 30-year incumbent is relying on dishonest and disingenuous attacks to win an election tells voters everything they need to know about her record,” he added.
Republican candidates across the country have recently shifted their focus from election denialism, as Democrats grow more aggressive in painting the GOP as a party overtaken by extremists.
Murray’s ad echoes the line of attack formulated in Biden’s 24-minute prime-time speech delivered from Independence Hall in Philadelphia last week.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said.
After acknowledging that not every Republican is an extremist, Biden added: “But there’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country.”
Murray struck a similar tone in another ad she released last month, in which she recounted her personal experience of the insurrection.
“On January 6th, I will never forget the pounding at the door,” the senator said in the ad. “We barricaded ourselves in a small office in the Capitol. The MAGA mob did everything they could to stop the peaceful transfer of power.”
“MAGA Republicans want to seize power in this year’s election,” Murray continued. “Our democracy is in real danger. It’s up to all of us to save it.”
This article has been updated to include a statement from the Smiley campaign.