A major progressive super PAC is targeting deep red states with crucial Senate races, a sign that the Democratic Party is pushing further into solidly Republican political territory in the final days of the 2020 campaign.
NextGen America, which focuses on turning out voters under age 35, is expanding its target list to include Senate races in Alaska and South Carolina, and House elections for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District and Kansas’ 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts. The group, funded almost exclusively by former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, has a $45 million budget for the 2020 election cycle.
The group is spending $200,000 on a digital ad in Alaska boosting independent Senate challenger Al Gross, who has the backing of national Democratic groups, over GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan. It will aim its volunteer army at the other states to text and call voters, encouraging them to register and vote.
Unlike many other Democratic outside groups, NextGen is typically focused on using progressive messages to turn out progressive voters. The decision to add deep red states to its target list shows how Democrats are gaining more confidence in their ability to turn 2020 into a wave election as President Donald Trump’s reelection bid continues to flail.
“Young people need a Democrat in the White House and a Senate that’s willing to fight for the progressive policies we demand,” Ben Wessel, NextGen America’s executive director, said in a statement. “Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s historic unpopularity with young people is putting new opportunities on the map. We have a massive squad of volunteers eager to contact more voters to flip the White House and Senate. The momentum is on our side, and we’re giving the people what they want.”
South Carolina features a marquee battle between GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jamie Harrison. In the Kansas Senate race, Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier is mounting a competitive challenge to GOP Rep. Roger Marshall.
Nebraska awards its electoral college votes proportionately, and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is seen as the favorite to seize the 2nd Congressional District’s vote, which could prove crucial if the presidential election turns into a nail-biter. The district is also the focus of a tight race between progressive Democrat Kara Eastman and GOP Rep. Don Bacon.
NextGen sees the Senate race in Alaska ― also home to a hard-fought House contest between 24-term incumbent GOP Rep. Don Young and independent challenger Alyse Galvin ― as a particularly promising target. Sullivan won his first Senate term by just over 6,000 votes, and NextGen is targeting just shy of 15,000 voters under the age of 39 there. The state’s automatic voter registration also means NextGen does not have to worry about a barrier that often blocks or discourages young people from voting.
The group’s ad in the Alaska Senate race contrasts Gross and Sullivan on health care, taxes, the environment and abortion rights. “Al is for conservation, Dan is for corporations,” a female narrator says in the ad.
NextGen is also targeting roughly 30,000 voters in Nebraska, just over 60,000 in Kansas and 213,000 in South Carolina.
The group has already made more than 15 million calls and texts into the 11 states it targeted at the beginning of the election cycle, and has met its voter contact goals in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
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