Super PAC supporting Jay Inslee drops more than $1 million early in race
As the Democratic base has turned against the idea of super PACs, they have largely stayed out of the crowded primary field. However, one super PAC, Act Now on Climate, laid down some serious early cash in support of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — spending almost $1.3 million since the beginning of March.
Inslee, the only Democratic candidate with an aligned super PAC so far, has faced criticism for not disavowing Act Now on Climate, which hired a close ally of Inslee’s. Breaking with the rest of the Democratic field, Inslee said he welcomes the super PAC’s support and that he “would not reject support from a group that is run by people who ‘want to defeat climate change.’”
Super PACs, which are legally required to be independent of candidates and campaigns, can raise unlimited sums of money from individuals, corporations, unions, etc. They can also spend unlimited sums to advocate in favor of or against a candidate.
Act Now on Climate has made several TV ad buys in Iowa, where it began airing pro-Inslee commercials earlier in March and has spent significantly on online ads. Its most recent independent expenditure was on March 19 for $125,000 worth of digital ads.
The largest single expenditure from the super PAC came on March 5 for a media buy which cost around $498,872.
The Facebook Ad Archive shows 37 active Act Now on Climate sponsored posts that began running on March 21. Many of the ads primarily targeted men in the 18-24 and 25-34 age brackets. Others were focused on older demographics. For instance, one ad, which featured a black-and-white image of a family around an old TV, announced that “It’s not the 1950’s anymore. We need a president who will take on climate change,” largely focused on adults 55 and over.
The states that tend to be the main targets of the super PAC’s Facebook ads include the obvious choice of Iowa, along with donor-heavy states like California, New York and Texas.
Each of the ads includes a link to Inslee’s campaign website where one can sign up for his campaign’s emails.
Act Now on Climate also ran promoted tweets on Twitter. According to Twitter’s Ads Transparency Center, the super PAC spent a total of $41,600 on 17 ads as part of a campaign which ran from March 5 to March 18. The campaign, which made 3.3 million impressions on the platform, primarily reached Twitter users in California, Texas and Florida. A number of the tweets had accompanying videos of wildfires and flooding and included the phrases like “It’s time we made combating climate change a top priority.”
Outside of Act Now on Climate, no other candidate-aligned super PAC has spent money in the 2020 Democratic nomination race. Dream United, a super PAC run by a former classmate of Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.), was created despite objections from Booker himself. However, Dream United has yet to make any independent expenditures.
Spending by outside groups this early in the cycle isn’t totally unusual. In the early months of 2015, outside groups spent in support of Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), while others made independent expenditures opposing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. However, Act Now On Climate eclipses the biggest spenders at this point in 2015.
Despite the significant early spending from the only super PAC in the race at the moment, Inslee remains far behind in the polls. In the RealClearPolitics average of all primary polls, Inslee is at 0.8 percent.
Act Now On Climate did not respond to a request for comment.
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