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Blunt gets campaign help from group with ties to Rove

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt are the front runners for the Democratic and Republican nominations in the next Senate race.
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(Updated Thursday, Oct. 22 with a link to the ad)

A tax exempt group with ties to Bush adviser Karl Rove plans to launch a major TV and radio ad blitz in Missouri this week on behalf of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

The group is called One Nation and is assisting Republican senators around the country who are up for re-election next year.

It’s led by Steven Law, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Law also is the president and chief executive officer of American Crossroads, an independent conservative campaign consortium founded by several years ago by Rove.

One Nation has 501C4 status, which means that under the IRS code, it does not have to identify its donors. The group cannot coordinate any activities with the Blunt campaign.

A spokesman says One Nation is spending $785,000 on a pro-Blunt ad campaignthat, beginning Wednesday, will air spots on cable and broadcast TV stations in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia.

TheTV ad will run through the end of the month. The radio ads will air in early November.

The ads will promote Blunt’s actions on behalf of veterans. That topic is notable since Blunt’s Democratic rival – Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander – is a veteran.

If the ads fit the model of One Nation’s spots elsewhere, they will praise Blunt – but not mention Kander.

A spokesman for One Nation said, “Since the Senate has been under new management, it has championed the cause of military families and veterans, and Sen. Blunt has led the charge on that effort with his support of the Military Family Stability Act. We want to highlight that work and intend to do more on the issue in the future.”

Chris Hayden, a spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party, sees another motive. “Karl Rove running ads in your state is the surest sign that you are both a vulnerable Republican and a reliable vote for Washington special interests. Sen. Blunt has spent his career in Washington fighting for the lobbyists, and now they are coming to his rescue. Sen. Blunt’s Washington allies will stop at nothing to ensure they keep their senator and leave Missourians to fend for themselves."

Blunt backers dismiss the “insider’’ criticism, saying the tactic didn’t work in 2010 when it was used by Democratic rival Robin Carnahan. Kander allies say outside groups wouldn't be running pro-Blunt ads so early if they weren't concerned about his re-election chances.

The Blunt-Kander contest already is attracting national attention.The latest campaign reports showed Blunt with almost three times as much money in the bank. But Kander allies note that he launched his campaign just last winter and that their pace of fundraising has been close much of this year.

One Nation isn’t the first outside group to run ads lauding Blunt. The American Chemical Council, a group with ties to the chemical industry, ran pro-Blunt ads statewide in September.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.