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Image: Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 8, 2022.Julia Nikhinson / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Midterm elections roundup: Raising (spending) in Arizona

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There have been signs in the last few months that Arizona has fallen down the list of top Senate rankings this cycle (primarily the decision by the Senate Leadership Fund to pull its ad spending there to fund other races). But this race is still expected to be quite close, and there’s been a flurry of new activity there in the last 24 hours. 

On top of the tense debate we saw Thursday night, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is up with a new ad where he tries to frame himself as someone willing to buck both parties.

“I stand up to the left when they want to defund the police, and I stand up to the right when they want a national abortion ban,” Kelly says in the direct-to-camera ad. “And when Joe Biden gets it wrong, I call him out.” 

But while the marquee GOP super PAC isn’t playing in Arizona anymore, that doesn’t mean other groups have given up. Politico first reported that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is adding a “seven-figure” investment into the state that includes TV and direct mail. The group has spent $4.6 million on ads in the state since the primary, but virtually nothing since the end of last month, per AdImpact. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Arizona Senate/Governor: new CNN likely voter poll finds Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly leading Republican Blake Masters 51%-45%, and Democrat Katie Hobbs leading Republican Kari Lake 49%-46% in the governor’s race. 

Georgia Senate: Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker at a campaign stop on Thursday continued to deny allegations that he urged an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion and reimbursed her for the procedure. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign released a new TV ad highlighting allegations that Walker threatened women with violence.

Iowa Senate: GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democrat Mike Franken faced off in their only debate Thursday night, clashing on abortion, inflation, and Jan. 6, per the Des Moines Register. They also sparred over an allegation from Franken’s former campaign manager that he made an unwanted advance (which Franken has denied). 

Nevada Senate/Governor: The new CNN likely voter poll finds Republican Adam Laxalt leading Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto 49%-46%, and Republican gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo leading Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak 48%-46%. 

Pennsylvania Senate: The Associated Press reports that Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman “kept a light work schedule and was often absent from state business” during his four years in office. 

Illinois Governor: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker debated Republican nominee Darren Bailey in a tense event that the Associated Press summarized as the two men “finding different ways to call each other ‘liar.’”

Oregon Governor: Inside Elections reports that Nike co-founder Phil Knight has donated to both Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson’s gubernatorial campaigns. Drazan, Johnson and Democrat Tina Kotek debated Thursday, sparring over crime, homelessness and access to abortion in the state.

Texas Governor: Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s campaign launched a new TV ad featuring family members of children killed in a mass shooting earlier this year at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.