The first Latina elected to the Senate will face a barrage of negative ads on Spanish-language TV and radio in Nevada as an outside group prepares to spend nearly $2 million to back her Republican challenger — a sizable investment in what's expected to be the most influential electorate in November.
In spending plans first shared with NBC News, the conservative super PAC Club for Growth Action said it will paint Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto as soft on crime while boosting Republican Adam Laxalt in what has become one of the tightest Senate races in the country.
“So weak on crime it’s dangerous,” the new ad declares.
When reached for comment, Cortez Masto’s campaign highlighted an endorsement from the Nevada Police Union and provided a statement from the senator. “Both as Nevada’s attorney general and in the Senate, I have worked with law enforcement to ensure our officers have the resources they need to keep our communities safe,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.
By the time Laxalt won the GOP primary, Cortez Masto and outside Democratic groups led by the Somos PAC had already spent $2.7 million on Spanish-language ads, compared to $176,000 spent by Republicans.
Since then, Democrats have outpaced Republicans by spending $4.6 million, or about 12% of their total ad expenditures, on Spanish-language ads, compared to $1 million or 3% of overall spending on the GOP side, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
Club for Growth Action expects to spend $10 million in Nevada in the general election — including the Spanish-language ads — more than it has spent in any other battleground state, a spokesman said.
Latinos are expected to make up 20% of the voters in the midterms. NBC News reported Sunday that Democrats are seeing signs that Latinos will skip this year's election, which could end up tilting races in favor of Republican candidates. At the same time, many Latinos have negative views of Laxalt.
Club for Growth Action said the spending is the "single largest investment in Hispanic media in the race by any Republican group."
“Nevada has the most important Senate race in the country,” David McIntosh, Club for Growth Action’s president, said in a statement. “While Democrats have long taken the Hispanic vote for granted, it’s important to reach this audience and let them know where the candidates stand on the issues that matter like crime, inflation, and the economy.”
CORRECTION (Oct. 7, 2022, 10:11 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the period in which funds were spent on Spanish-language campaign ads. It was in the lead-up to the June 14 primary, not in the months since.