Last month, the Congressional Leadership Fund opened an office in Bloomington, Minnesota. While next year’s midterm election is 15 months away, the conservative super PAC has already begun enlisting volunteers to work unofficially on his behalf.
From now until election day, CLF volunteers will to make calls and go door-to-door. While the group hasn’t yet begun airing ads in support of Paulsen, the Star Tribune reported that “CLF attack ads — featuring ominous, grainy footage of Nancy Pelosi and comedian Kathy Griffin posing with a gory severed Trump head — have been popping up online, hitting Democratic candidates in targeted districts across the country.”
CLF has gained a substantial influence in recent elections. In the recent special election for Montana’s at-large congressional district, the group was the biggest Republican outside spender, raising $2.5 million. In the Georgia special election, they spent $2.94 million against Democrat Jon Ossof.
But in a way, CLF’s presence is also a good sign. The organization has, so far, only established campaign offices in districts that are termed “at-risk.” In other words, CLF is only intervening here in the 3rd Congressional District because they know Paulsen will be on shaky ground in 2018.
Indeed, the 3rd Congressional District is sharply divided. It was one of the only districts in the country that went to Hillary Clinton but also elected a Republican to Congress in last year’s elections.
Dean Phillips, widely considered the DFL candidate with the best shot at taking Paulsen down next year, has been stumping across the 3rd Congressional District in an effort to drum up support.
But Phillips — who has never held public office — faces an uphill battle. Not only is he up against the likes of CLF, but Paulsen himself is a prolific fundraiser with well-heeled donors in the energy and financial industries. Plus, Paulsen will retain his incumbent’s advantage into next year.
While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has begun running digital ads attacking Paulsen for his vote in favor of repealing Obamacare, we need to continue doing our part by speaking out against Paulsen and mobilizing our friends and neighbors to oppose his right-wing agenda.