GOP super PAC makes massive ad buy in McAdams/Owens race

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Fresh on the heels of Democrat Ben McAdams launching his campaign television advertising campaign ahead of the November election, a Republican super PAC is about to pump massive amounts of cash into the district.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is closely linked to House GOP leadership, has upped their advertising reservations for the fall campaign in Utah’s 4th Congressional district to a whopping $3.1 million. Initially, the PAC reserved $895,000 in advertising in Utah to oppose McAdams ahead of November. 

“Congressman Ben McAdams has been out-of-touch and far-too liberal for this district from day one,” said CLF Communications Director Calvin Moore in an email statement to “We’re doubling-down on the races where we think we can make a decisive difference on Election Day.”

McAdams’ campaign made their initial ad buy of the 2020 race last week, dropping $369,000 on ads that began Monday through election day. In 2020, his campaign spent more than $1.8 million on ads.

If the CLF ends up employing all of those ads, they’ve only reserved the ad time at this point, it would be more than 2 ½ times the amount they spent in the 2018 election to support Republican Mia Love’s unsuccessful campaign that year. In fact, it would be more than all of the outside advertising that flooded into the UT04 race two years ago according to figures provided to by Advertising Analytics. It’s also more than the ad spending by the McAdams and Love campaigns combined. 

The increased ad reservations indicate the group sees McAdams as vulnerable heading into November. In July the group released a poll giving Republican nominee Burgess Owens a 9 point lead over McAdams. Last week a Deseret News poll showed the race as a dead heat between McAdams and Owens, with each man getting 35 percent support. 

Election forecasters give McAdams a slight edge over Owens right now. The UT04 race is rated as “Tilt Democratic” by Inside Elections, and “Lean Democratic” by the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

The massive ad reservation from the CLF is likely welcome news for Republican Owens’ campaign. The latest campaign finance reports show his campaign was cash poor coming out of the four-way June primary where he won the GOP nomination with 43 percent. Federal Election Commission disclosures showed McAdams enjoyed a massive 29-1 campaign cash advantage over Owens with $2.61 million on hand compared to just $90,000 for Owens.

So far, the only other outside group that has booked time in the 4th Congressional District race is the House Majority PAC, which is linked to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The PAC has reserved $914,000 in ad time starting in mid-October according to Advertising Analytics.

Politico reports the CLF added $45 million to their fall advertising buy to target vulnerable Democrats and shore up endangered House Republicans. That almost doubles their overall ad reservation total ahead of November to nearly $90 million.

The McAdams campaign declined to comment for this story while Owens’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment.