GOP uses guilt in closing messages against Democrats in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Senate races

Around the corner from Milwaukee Public Market, Eden Haynes recalls that the DoorDash worker’s car was stolen—while his kids were in the car.

According to CBS58, Carjacker shot an off-duty detective in the stomach before fleeing the scene.

“It’s been a crazy year,” Haynes, a Democratic voter, told CBS News. “Luckily she was safe. I think she left the car [kids] In this. It’s just crazy. It scares me a little because he could have done something by coming here.”

In Wisconsin’s Senate race between Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, crime and public safety are among the top concerns for voters. October first . In cbs news pollCrime ranks third, behind the economy and inflation, when it comes to “very important issues” for potential voters. And 42% of registered voters said Johnson’s policies make them “safer than crime.”

The issue itself is divided partisan, but 59% of voters who identified as “moderate” said it was “very important”. By comparison, 45% of moderates rank the abortion issue, which Barnes and Wisconsin Democrats have focused their campaigns on, as “very important.”

Crime in Milwaukee began to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Milwaukee Police Department, homicides and non-fatal shootings increased by 18% from 2020 to October 2022. There were 3,228 incidents of motor vehicle theft in 2020. As of 28 October, there were 6,913 motor vehicle thefts, an increase of 114%.

Throughout the campaign and now, in the days leading up to the race, Republicans across the country have been hammering Democrats as “soft on crime.”

This issue has been particularly prevalent in advertisements for the GOP attack against Barnes. Since August 30, 70% of Republican ads that air in Wisconsin’s Senate race mention crime, and the speed at which these ads are broadcast has remained high. Since October 18, according to an analysis of data by ad tracking firm AdImpact.

In the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democratic Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz, 53% of Republican ads have mentioned a crime since August 30. Since August 30, Republicans have spent $12.3 million on crime ads, more than $11.8 million spent on ads for any other topic.

Republican ads against Barnes in Wisconsin struck him over his earlier comments, one on how the police budget should be reallocated and another in which he showed support for halving the prison population.

Barnes is trying to refute the ads on several fronts. He has been running an ad since August 30 in which he says, “Look, we knew the other side would lie about me to scare you. Now they are claiming that I want to defame the police and call ICE I want to finish. It’s a lie.” According to AdImpact, he spent over $3.1 million on this ad.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has sought to align himself with Wisconsin’s law enforcement community, arguing that even though the federal government doesn’t have much in local funding for police departments, there is a need for clear support for law enforcement. Is.

“If you don’t feel safe on your streets, in your neighborhood, in your house, it’s going to animate your votes,” Johnson told CBS News after an October event. Brotherhood Order of Police. “It’s primarily a matter of the disdain some politicians have shown for law enforcement over the years.”

Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police President Ryan Windroff blamed the Democratic District Attorney for a high level of felony bail bonds that are too short and failing to deliver harsh enough punishments to prevent a repeat.

“Any officer working on the street can tell you they’re dealing with a small percentage of the population, most of the time. It’s the same people doing the same thing over and over again,” he said.

In an interview with CBS News, Barnes said that protecting the police budget is “not my position at all” and pointed to his support for state budgets that increase law enforcement funding. He argued that the core issues of crime, economic opportunity and education, play a big role in the rise of crime in how politicians talk about the issue.

“When you talk about a rise in crime, nobody goes out and says, ‘Oh, well, what are the Democrats thinking?’ They don’t even go, ‘What are Republicans thinking?’ This is not the reason why someone goes out and takes offense. It is the frustration that people are experiencing. It is lack of opportunity,” he said.

Barnes has called Johnson a hypocrite over his support for law enforcement over comments that he said were not an “armed rebellion” – it’s “wrong” to call them that, Johnson said in early October. Said in – and their ties attempt to give former Vice President Mike Pence a false slate of 2020 presidential voters.

Johnson told CBS News that he condemned the January 6 violence but reiterated his earlier remarks. “There were not thousands of armed rebels,” Johnson said. “It’s a false story.”

Several Democratic voters in Milwaukee told CBS News that they think Republicans are taking advantage of the crime issue, and think the ads hitting Barnes, a black native of Milwaukee, are racist.

“What worries me is that we never try to address the root causes because it takes time and energy and subtle, subtle debate, rather than just “let’s throw them under the bus because crime has escalated,” Suzy Holstein said.

“They’re comparing Mandela to the fact that he’s black, so his friends are all badass. And that’s the most obscene and divisive ad,” said Nancy Link of Waukesha, Milwaukee.

She was citing an ad from the National Republican Senate Committee on Barnes’ support for abolishing cash bail. Darrell Brookswho was found guilty of willful murder after driving his SUV into the car Waukesha Christmas Paradekilling six people.

In a statement, NRSC communications director Chris Hartline said Democrats’ total allegations that the ads are racist were “not surprising, given what Democrats and their allies in the media do when they lose.”

He said, “We’re using their own words and their own records. If they don’t like it, they should invent a time machine, go back in time and not adopt the stupid ideas that voters have.” are rejected.”

In Pennsylvania, groups outside Oz and the GOP are slamming Fetterman over the airwaves and campaign trail over crime and safety – claiming he wants to release a third of prisoners and legalize drugs. He is also attacking his votes as chairman of the state’s pardon board, part of his role as lieutenant governor.

According to tracking by AdImpact, the Senate Leadership Fund, which is spending more than $40 million on this race alone, began running a number of ads with a focus on the crime starting in August. The Oz campaign and the NRSC also began running ads mentioning the crime around the same time. As election day approaches, the focus on crime has increased.

“It’s at the forefront for a lot of voters, especially suburban women outside Philly and Pittsburgh,” said Jess Szymanski, senior adviser at Republican consulting firm Axiom Strategies. “The Oz campaign and other campaigns in Pennsylvania being able to focus on that issue and improve it are really resonating with people. I think that’s why you see elections tighter in Pennsylvania in particular. Huh.”

The latest CBS News Battlegrounds tracker shows Fetterman within a margin of error with a 2-point lead over Oz. This is below the five-point lead Fetterman held in mid-September.

Fetterman has pushed back on the attacks, accusing Republicans of lying. On Stump he is talking about how he ran as mayor of Braddock to stop gun violence and, by working with communities and funding the police, put the killings to a halt for five and a half years.

“I’m a Democrat following my record on crime,” Fetterman said on the campaign trail in response to the attacks. “What does Dr. Oz know about crime? What has he ever done?”

In response to the flood of ads for the attack, he has also released his own TV commercials featuring state law enforcement officers and declared his support for police funding.

It cannot be denied that crime has increased in Philadelphia in recent years, with homicides skyrocketing in 2019 to 2020 and continuing to rise in 2021. There have been 437 murders so far this year, which is slightly less than last year.

newest CBS News Battleground Tracker showed that 91% of registered voters in the state said it was important for candidates to talk about crime and police in debates, making it the second most important issue behind economy and inflation policies.

The day before the first and only debate, Oz released his plan to fight crime. Later, he campaigned for an event at the State Troopers Association in Harrisburg and talked about keeping people safe.

Oz said, “I spent most of my life talking about health issues. But it turns out that not being safe also leads to a lot of health issues.”

Voters are divided on who is best equipped to address the issue.

“Crime is an issue, but Republicans won’t do anything about guns, so to me it’s a big deal that is related to crime,” said Anita Altman, a registered Democrat. She said Democrats are better at gun laws.

The Rev. Dr. Wayne Weathers, who worked for President Biden’s 2020 campaign, said of the frequent crime ads, “I call it the Willie Horton of the 21st century.”

Caitlin Hugh-Burns contributed reporting.

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