Republicans have backed away from their signature tax cut bill in the final days of a closely-watched special House election in the Pittsburgh suburbs — even though it’s the very accomplishment on which they had banked their midterm election hopes, Politico reported.
Instead, GOP groups that once proudly declared the tax law would be the central fight of the midterms are now airing ads on so-called sanctuary cities and attacking Democrat Conor Lamb’s record as a prosecutor as they try to drag GOP state Rep. Rick Saccone over the finish line.
For the weeks of Feb. 4 and Feb. 11, roughly two-thirds of the broadcast television ads from Saccone’s campaign, the super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee mentioned taxes, according to a POLITICO analysis of data from Advertising Analytics. For the week of February 18, that dropped to 36 percent, and to 14 percent the week after.
Since the beginning of March, tax ads have been essentially non-existent. Only two are on the air now — one from the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action which briefly mentions the tax law and a radio ad from a progressive group attacking Saccone for supporting the law.
If the tax law isn’t a reliable vote-winner, it means Republicans may have to find different midterm messaging to go along with a consistent wave of attacks linking Democratic candidates to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Pennsylvania race will mark the second major contest of the cycle, following the Virginia governor’s race, where Republicans abandoned a tax cut-focused message to hammer a Democrat over immigration and crime.
GOP strategists working on the race scoff at the idea they are abandoning tax cuts as a driving message in the election, noting that Republicans are advertising on the issue online and in mailers.
“If the Democrats are willing to sign a deal that the only things we’re allowed to argue about for the midterms are the tax cuts and Nancy Pelosi, show me the deal. I’ll sign it right now,” said Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund.