A super PAC disguised as Republican-aligned but linked to Democrats is spending thousands in Virginia on targeted political ads that attack Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Second Amendment issues.
The ads, which Axios first reported on, were paid for by Accountability Virginia PAC and appear on various online platforms, including Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
The outlet assessed that Accountability Virginia had spent more than $25,000 on the ads and that they had been viewed anywhere between one million and five million times.
On Facebook, the group spent $7,450 on negative gun-related ads, including one reading, “Glenn Youngkin REFUSES to tell us where he stands on guns and the Second Amendment,” and another stating, “If we can’t trust Glenn Youngkin on guns, what can we trust him on?”
On Snapchat, political advertising records indicate Accountability Virginia targeted 207 specific zip codes in western Virginia, a heavily Republican region of the state, according to Axios:
A new group is running ads in the VA Gov race, hitting Glenn Youngkin for being insufficiently committed to gun rights and targeting GOP-heavy zip codes. All signs indicate it’s a sneaky Dem effort to depress turnout in R strongholds https://t.co/rBdF9EaRob pic.twitter.com/GssiyeN6rB
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 28, 2021
While Accountability Virginia does not publicly affiliate with a party, the group’s website uses ActBlue, a fundraising vehicle for Democrat candidates and groups, and it was incorporated by MBA Consulting, a firm that, as Axios noted, has consistently provided services to Democrats.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told the outlet he believes the ads are “an attempt to undermine Youngkin’s support in western rural areas, where gun ownership is sacred and the Republican has a big lead — as all Republicans do these days.”
Some of the ads use the fact that Youngkin has not received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a reason for Republicans to doubt his stance on Second Amendment rights. Youngkin is, however, a lifetime member of the NRA and has vowed to push back against Democrat gun control measures, to the point that the Virginia Democrat Party raised the alarm in July on his “far-right gun agenda.”
The misleading ads come amid a tightening gubernatorial contest between Youngkin and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). While polls throughout the duration of the race have shown McAuliffe with a slight edge, newer polls have indicated Youngkin is gaining ground, and last week, Cook Political Report revised its race rating from “lean D” to “toss up.”
Early voting for the race began September 17, and election day takes place November 2.
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