A pair of Spanish-language television ads began airing Wednesday in support of U.S. Senate candidates in North Carolina and Nevada.
The Tar Heel State has emerged this year as critical to Democratic hopes of electing Hillary Clinton to the White House and retaking control of the U.S. Senate. Currently, Clinton is leading Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in many polls, while incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) is locked in the race of his political life against Democratic state lawmaker Deborah Ross.
In Nevada, Rep. Joseph J. Heck (R) faces former state attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto in the race to succeed Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D). Immigration has become a top issue in the race, given the state's growing Hispanic population and Heck's public struggles with the topic.
In North Carolina, Ross is the beneficiary of a new Spanish-language ad campaign that will stretch across television, radio and the Internet and is paid for by Democracy for America, a liberal advocacy group that plans to spend at least $200,000 helping her. Not surprisingly, it focuses on what Trump has said about immigration reform and immigrants.
Here's the 30-second TV ad:
"When a person like Donald Trump wants to be president and says we are criminals and rapists, we need a fighter of our own," an announcer says. "And for Senate, that person is Deborah Ross. Deborah Ross isn’t afraid of Donald Trump. Deborah Ross believes in comprehensive immigration reform. And Deborah Ross is for a North Carolina that works for all of us."
The ad was produced for DFA by Solidarity Strategies, led by consultant Chuck Rocha, who was a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.). In the months since Sanders dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination, Rocha and other consultants who focus on wooing Hispanic voters have warned that although Clinton may ultimately enjoy broad support among Latino voters, down-ballot Democrats could suffer if the party and outside groups don't promote candidates properly.
"There’s a lot of people concerned about the top of the ticket and the deficiencies of Clinton or Trump, but what really scares me is the non-motivation down-ballot of targeting Latinos for Senate and congressional races," Rocha said in an interview this week.
The ads in North Carolina and Nevada are designed to address those concerns.
In Nevada, the Senate Majority PAC is paying for the spot, which attacks Heck by tying him to Trump's comments on immigration and education. Here's the ad:
The message's bottom line: "There is no difference between Joe Heck and Donald Trump," the announcer says.
The announcer in both the ads is a woman. That is because Democrats increasingly believe Latinas will be voting this year in higher numbers than ever before.
A poll released last week by Emerson College put Burr ahead of Ross, 45 to 41, with a 3.4 percentage-point margin of error. Two polls released in late August by Monmouth University and CNN-ORC showed Burr leading by 2 points and 3 points, respectively.
In the Nevada race, Heck and Cortez Masto were tied at 37 percent apiece in a Suffolk University poll taken in mid-August.