DECATUR - Less than a week since a pledge of $1 million to help re-elect Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, the Congressional Leadership Fund has unveiled their first ad against Davis' Democratic opponent Betsy Dirksen Londrigan.
The 30-second spot, released Wednesday morning, portrays Londrigan as too liberal for the 13th Congressional District, saying her policies on health care could end employer-provided insurance and Medicare as we know it.
The ad suggests Londrigan is a supporter of a single-payer system to replace current health coverage, a policy popular among the more liberal members of the Democratic Party. It says Londrigan’s “radical health care plan” could cost $32 trillion, citing a 2016 study from the Urban Institute that looked into the cost of a single-payer system.
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Londrigan has said repeatedly that she does not support such a system, instead saying she supports a public option plan that would work in the existing framework of health care law.
“This deeply misleading ad is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distract from the reality of Rodney Davis' voting record,” said Londrigan’s spokeswoman Emma Brown.
Davis spokeswoman Ashley Phelps pointed to a Feb. 25 candidate questionnaire in the State Journal-Register, in which Londrigan referred to Medicaid-for-All as a "good option ... being discussed."
The comment came as part of a five-part plan to address health care coverage and costs. "I believe we should introduce a 'public option' for health insurance that could compete with private insurance companies," Londrigan said in the questionnaire. "There are good options, such as Medicare X and Medicaid-for-All being discussed but we have to get the right representation in Congress to make a 'public option' reality."
Other ideas she mentioned included lowering the age for Medicare eligibility and allowing the government to negotiate directly with drug companies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.
Phelps on Wednesday said voters don't know where Londrigan stands. "It's completely dishonest to tell people one thing so they vote for you in the primary and then walk it back" after realizing that the position is unpopular with voters, she said.
It's likely Central Illinois residents will become familiar with the ad and other attacking Londrigan from the Congressional Leadership Fund. The group has spent $419,475 with WAND and WCIA to run the spot a total of 557 times starting this week until the election on Nov. 6, according to filings this week with the Federal Communications Commission.
"The number of ads in this district shows just how competitive Betsy Londrigan has made this race," said Jacob Peters, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The fact that the ads focus on health care shows that Davis is vulnerable because of his position on the issue, Peters said.
The DCCC on Tuesday also unveiled its own ad attacking Davis for his vote last year on the Republican health care plan. The 30-second spot portrays Davis as an insider who sides with special interests over constituents and hits on Davis' support last year for the Republican health plan, which would have affected those with pre-existing conditions and allowed insurance companies to charge more to older members.
It's not clear when the DCCC ad will air in Central Illinois. A press release from the DCCC on Tuesday said the ad would begin running across the district that day.
According to filings with the Federal Communications Commission, the DCCC filed paperwork with WAND on Tuesday to run ads against Davis, but no further details on the buy or the cost were immediately available.
Women Vote!, a political action committee affiliated with pro-abortion rights group Emily's List, have also bought or reserved $588,910 worth of ads in the district through October, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission. Emily's List has endorsed Londrigan.
Davis has repeatedly denied he would support anything that prevented those with pre-existing conditions from getting access to health care. One of his own ads features his wife, Shannon, a 19-year colon cancer survivor who says it's ridiculous to attack her husband’s stance on protecting those with pre-existing conditions.
He told reporters at an event last week in Springfield the rising costs of health coverage for everyone has only reaffirmed his support to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The influx of national cash into the district is further proof that both parties are seeing the 13th as in play for November, a far cry from the past two cycles where Davis easily won re-election. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, by the end of June, Davis had spent $1.17 million of $2.37 million raised. The same report has Londrigan spending $683,000 of her $1.34 million.
The 13th Congressional District encompasses a large swath of Central Illinois, including all or parts of Macon, Christian, Sangamon, Logan, DeWitt and Champaign counties.
Contact Ryan Voyles at (217) 421-7985. Follow him on Twitter: @RVVoyles
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