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September 23, 2008

Freedom's Watch Launches New Barrage

Freedom's Watch, the conservative 501(c)(4) group that has lambasted Democrats in key Congressional districts this year, is launching a new round of ads in six competitive House districts, sources tell The Scorecard.

The group has already launched an ad in Alabama's Second District, where Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright and GOP State Senator Jay Love are running to replace retiring Rep. Terry Everett. The ad accuses Bright of raising taxes in Montgomery during his tenure.

Tomorrow, Freedom's Watch will go up with advertisements targeting Democratic candidates in New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada and Illinois. Tellingly, the Democratic candidates -- John Adler and Linda Stender in New Jersey, Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Dina Titus in Nevada and Debbie Halvorson in Illinois -- are all running for currently Republican-held seats.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been warning about Freedom's Watch for months, suggesting the group is set to make up for the National Republican Congressional Committee's fundraising shortfall with a cash infusion on behalf of GOP candidates. Perhaps that's why Bright, the target of the first ad launched, was able to respond with his own ad so quickly.

Bright's ad could be a template for other Democrats hoping to hit back at the outside group. It mentions Freedom's Watch's main bankroller, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who Bright's ad calls "America's biggest investor in China."

But watch Bright's response ad carefully. "For some people, conservative Christian values are just words," the Mayor says. "You know what? They're more than just words to me."

A statement on the conservative nature of the district he represents? Sure. But there is no way around the fact that Adelson is Jewish, and in fact one of the country's most ardent defenders of Israel (Check out the New Yorker's profile of Adelson, who has had a serious hand in Israeli politics for years, from the June 30 issue).

"Bobby sees this [ad] as an attack, and he wants to keep this all above board," a campaign spokeswoman said. Freedom's Watch is already working on a response to Bright's response.

The Bright campaign isn't the only one that's pushed back against Freedom's Watch this year. Earlier, the DCCC ran advertisements in ten districts the conservative group was targeting to fight back.