Liberal Group's Ad Targets 'Right Wing' Senate Candidates

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

Capitol Hill ( - A liberal advocacy group that has gained prominence for its work to block President Bush's more conservative judicial nominees is now trying to discourage voters from returning control of the Senate to Republicans.

People for the American Way (PFAW) has launched a television ad campaign entitled "One Vote Away." The commercial "warns of the devastating consequences if right wing Republicans control all three branches of government," according to the PFAW website.

"Today the White House and the House of Representatives are controlled by the right wing of the Republican Party. And with just one more vote they'll control the U.S. Senate," the ad states.

"Their unchecked political power would be devastating for a woman's right to choose, our environment, social security, and corporate accountability. And could guarantee a Supreme Court controlled by the far right for decades.

"With your family's future at stake, should one political party have this much power?," the commercial continues. "Your vote for senator counts on November 5th."

PFAW claims, in its online commentary about the ad, that the so-called "right wing" of the Republican Party has been thwarted by "moderate" Democrats for the past nine years.

"From 1994 through 2000, President Clinton's veto proved an effective check on the right-wing leaders' power. In 2001 and 2002, Democratic control of the Senate has provided a crucial check," the website says.

"But if Republicans take the Senate in November, that last check in our federal system will be gone. The far right is just one vote away from replacing Tom Daschle with Trent Lott, Patrick Leahy with Orrin Hatch, and making similarly disturbing leadership changes across the board."

Conservative observers call the ad a sensational attempt to scare voters, and say it is not surprising.

"This is just the sort of thing one would expect from People for the American Way, which is little more than an auxiliary arm of the left fringe of the Democrat party," said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU). "Fortunately, the average voter is a good bit more level-headed than Norman Lear and Ralph Neas."

Lear founded PFAW in response to criticism of the controversial content of many of the situation comedies he wrote, produced and directed, according to film critic Hal Erickson of All Movie Guide. Neas, a former congressional staff member and failed Democratic Senate candidate from Maryland, has been recognized by liberal groups such as Common Cause and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Keene noted that Lear and Neas are representative of PFAW's small, ultra-liberal membership.

"[This group] is funded by just the sort of elitists who, while they don't understand the people of this country, do know how to manipulate and profit from just the sort of corporate irresponsibility they so cavalierly condemn," Keene charged.

PFAW did not specify where it will run the ad, noting only that, "We are planning to run the ads in a number of states where the Senate races are toss-ups."

A political consultant, who spoke with on condition of anonymity, predicted the commercial will have little impact on voters. Most conservative and moderate voters recognize that liberal groups such as PFAW have capitalized on Democrat's control of the Senate to block well-qualified judicial nominees, he said, and to derail numerous legislative proposals that most Americans support.

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