GOP uses crime against Democrats in battleground Senate races

GOP uses crime against Democrats in battleground Senate races

Around a corner from the Milwaukee Public Market Eden Haynes recalls seeing a DoorDash worker steal her car — while her children were inside the car.

The carjacker shot an off-duty detective in the abdomen before fleeing the scene, according to CBS58.

” “It’s been an insane year,” Haynes, a Democratic voter told CBS News. “Fortunately she was safe. He ended up leaving the car with the [kids] inside it. It’s crazy. It scares me a little because he could have walked in here and done some thing. “

Wisconsin’s Senate race between Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Lieutenant Governor. Public safety and crime are top concerns for voters, according to Mandela Barnes. In an October CBS News poll, crime ranked third, behind the economy and inflation, when it came to “very important issues” for likely voters. And 42% of registered voters said Johnson’s policies would make them “more safe from crime. “

The issue itself is divided along partisan lines, but 59% of voters who identify as “moderate” said it was “very important.” By comparison, 45% of moderates rank the issue of abortion, which Barnes and Wisconsin Democrats have centered their campaigns around, as “very important. “

Crime in Milwaukee began rising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Homicides and non-fatal shootings increased by 18% from 2020 to October 2022, according to data from Milwaukee’s Police Department. In 2020, there were 3,228 incidents of motor vehicle theft. As of Oct. 28, there were 6,913 motor vehicle thefts, an increase of 114%.

Throughout the campaign and now, in the closing days of the race, Republicans across the country have been hammering Democrats as “soft on crime. The issue has been particularly prominent in GOP attack ads against Barnes. Since Aug. 30, 70% of the Republican ads that air in Wisconsin’s Senate race mention crime, and the pace of these ads airing has remained high since October 18, according to an analysis of data by ad tracking firm AdImpact. In the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democratic Lieutenant Governor. John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz, 53% of Republican ads since August 30 have mentioned crime. Since August 30, Republicans have spent $12.3 million on ads about crime, more than the $11.8 million spent on ads about any other topic.

The Republican ads against Barnes in Wisconsin hit him on his past comments, one on how police budgets should be reallocated and another in which he showed support for reducing the prison population in half. Barnes has tried to discredit the ads on multiple fronts. He’s been running one ad since Aug. 30 in which he says, “Look, we knew the other side would make up lies about me to scare you. They claim that I want to abolish ICE and defund the police. It’s a liar. AdImpact reports that he has spent more than $3.1 million on this advertisement.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has sought to tie himself to Wisconsin’s law enforcement community and argued that even though the federal government doesn’t have much of a say in local funding for police departments, unequivocal support for law enforcement is needed.

” “If you don’t feel safe in your street, in your neighbourhood, or in your home, that’s going to animate how your votes are going be,” Johnson said to CBS News after an October event at which he praised his endorsement by the Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police. “It’s primarily a matter of the disrespect that some politicians have shown law enforcement for far too long.”

Ryan Windroff is the president of Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police. He blamed the high crime rate on Democratic district attorneys for setting bail bonds too low and failing to impose harsh enough punishments to discourage recidivism.

” Any officer on the streets can tell you that they only deal with a small portion of the population. He said that it’s the same people doing the exact same thing over and over again.

Barnes stated that defunding police budgets was not his position and cited his support for state budgets to increase law enforcement funding in an interview with CBS News. Barnes argued that the root causes of crime, such as economic opportunity and education play a greater role in the rise in crime than politicians’ talk about it.

” When you talk about rising crime, nobody says, “Oh, well, what are Democrats thinking?” They don’t even say, “What are Republicans thinking?” This is not what makes someone commit a crime. It is the feeling of despair that people are experiencing. He said that it was the lack of opportunity.

Barnes has called Johnson a hypocrite on his support for law enforcement over comments he’s made saying that the Jan. 6 attacks were not an “armed insurrection” — it’s “inaccurate” to call them that, Johnson said in early October — and his ties to an attempt to deliver a false slate of 2020 presidential electors to former Vice President Mike Pence. Johnson said that he condemned Jan. 6’s violence, but reiterated previous comments. Johnson stated that Johnson did not believe there were thousands of armed rebels. Johnson said, “That’s a false narrative.”

Several Democratic voters in Milwaukee said to CBS News that they believe Republicans are exploiting crime and that the ads targeting Barnes, a Milwaukee Black native, are racist. Suzie Holstein said that it worries her that we don’t try to address the root causes of crime. It takes time and energy, subtle, nuanced discussion, and not just saying “Let’s throw them under a bus because crime is up.”

” They are equating Mandela to the fact he’s Black and therefore his friends are all crooks. Nancy Link, a Milwaukee resident, said that that ad is the most divisive and obscene that’s ever been.

She was referencing one ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee that ties Barnes’ support for ending cash bail to Darrell Brooks, who was found guilty of intentional homicide after driving his SUV into a Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six people.

In a statement Chris Hartline, NRSC communications director, said that Democrats’ accusations that the ads were racist are “not surprising” considering that this is what Democrats do when they lose. “

” They are using their own words, and their own records. He said that if they don’t like it they should invent their own time machine, go back to the past and reject dumb ideas that voters reject.

In Pennsylvania Oz and other GOP groups have been blasting Fetterman over safety and crime on the airwaves. They claim that Fetterman wants to free a third of prison inmates and legalize marijuana. They also attacked Fetterman’s votes as chair of Pennsylvania’s state board of pardons as part of his role of lieutenant governor.

The Senate Leadership Fund, which is spending more than $40 million on this race alone, started running a number of ads with a focus on crime starting in August, according to tracking by AdImpact. Around the same time, ads mentioning crime were also launched by the Oz campaign and NRSC. As Election Day approaches, the focus on crime has increased on radio and television.

“It is at the forefront of a lot voters, especially suburban women outside of Philly or Pittsburgh as well,” stated Jess Szymanski (senior adviser at Republican consulting firm Axiom Strategies). “The Oz campaign and other campaigns from Pennsylvania that can focus on this issue are really appealing to people. That’s why you can see Pennsylvania polls shrinking. “

The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker shows Fetterman leading Oz by 2 points, within the margins of error. This is a drop from the five-point lead Fetterman had in mid-September.

Fetterman resisted the attacks, accusing Republicans of lying. He has been talking on the stump about how he ran for mayor of Braddock in order to stop gun violence. Through working with communities, funding police, and other measures, killings have stopped for five-and-a-half years.

” I am a Democrat and I am running on my record in crime,” Fetterman stated on the campaign trail to respond to attacks. “What is Dr. Oz’s knowledge about crime?” What has he done? “

In response to the barrage attack ads, he also released his TV ads featuring state police officers and declaring support for police funding.

It’s undeniable that crime has surged in Philadelphia in recent years, with homicides skyrocketing in 2020 from 2019 and continuing to climb in 2021. There have been 437 homicides so far this year, only a slight dip from this time last year.

The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker showed 91% of registered voters in the state said it was important for candidates to talk about crime and police at the debate, making it the second most important issue behind the economy and inflation policies. Oz announced his plan to combat crime the day before the first and sole debate. After that, he went on the campaign trail to Harrisburg for an event at State Troopers Association and spoke about keeping people safe.

” I spent most of my life talking about health issues. Oz stated that it turned out that safety can also cause a lot of health problems.”

Voters are divided on who is best equipped to address this issue.

“Crime remains an issue, but Republicans won’t take action on guns. So to me, that is a big problem that has to do the crime,” stated Anita Altman, a registered Democrat. She stated that Democrats are better at gun laws .

Rev. Dr. Wayne Weathers, who worked for President Biden’s 2020 campaign, said of the constant crime ads, “I call it the 21st century Willie Horton. “

Caitlin Huey-Burns contributed reporting.

Aaron Navarro

Aaron Navarro works as an associate producer at CBS News’ political unit. He focuses on House and gubernatorial elections, as well as census and redistricting.

Read More