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GOP-aligned 'dark money' group launches $1M ad campaign to pressure Manchin

Manchin is at odds with most Senate Democrats when it comes to changing the filibuster rules.

WASHINGTON — A political "dark money" group led by a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is launching a $1 million ad campaign in West Virginia to pressure Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to keep the filibuster rules intact.

One Nation, an advocacy group that is not required to disclose its donors, released the radio, television and digital ads Wednesday. The campaign, which is scheduled to run for 12 days and was first shared with NBC News, uses clips of Manchin vowing he will not get rid of the filibuster.

"Call Senator Manchin. Tell him to keep his promise. Tell him to protect the Senate filibuster," a narrator says in the 30-second ad.

The ad also invokes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying they "could jam through their socialist agenda" if Democrats eliminate the filibuster.

"West Virginians know Senator Manchin as a man of his word who will stand up to Chuck Schumer and the D.C. liberals who want to dictate West Virginia's election laws and take away our freedom," said One Nation President Steven Law, who was once McConnell's chief of staff.

The ad puts new pressure on Manchin in a ruby red state that former President Donald Trump won by nearly 40 percentage points in 2020. Schumer said Monday that the Senate will debate and consider changing the chamber's rules to pass long-stalled voting rights legislation.

Manchin, along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., has resisted changing the rules to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise bill backed by all 50 Democratic-voting senators.

Manchin reiterated his concerns about changing the Senate rules this week, telling reporters that "it's very, very difficult" and that it would be a "heavy lift" for Democrats. But he didn't shut the door on making changes, either. Manchin has been talking with other senators to consider changes to the 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation.

One Nation was the most prolific spender in the 2020 election cycle, according to the money-in-politics group Open Secrets, spending more than $125 million on ads and campaign contributions.

McConnell has been a fierce opponent of altering the legislative filibuster at a time when Democrats hold a razor-thing majority. He told reporters Tuesday that Schumer is "hellbent on trying to break the Senate."