Outside groups air barrage of ads in Mass. race

By ANDREW MIGA | December 26, 2011 | 3:07 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The election is still months away but outside groups are already spending millions of dollars in the Massachusetts Senate race on TV ads attacking Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberal Democrats in the blue state.

The early ad surge highlights the national prominence of the battle over the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The contest is seen as the party's best shot at picking off a GOP Senate incumbent.

But the onslaught of negative commercials also foreshadows the huge role that outside groups, including special political action committees, will play in many of next November's biggest races. The PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of campaign cash while operating independently of candidates they support.