The ad war is heating up in the Arizona Senate race, with both sides launching digital attacks this week foreshadowing the battleground campaign to come.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched an attack ad on Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego Thursday, after Gallego hit the Republican frontrunner, Kari Lake, with his own ad earlier this week. And it’s just the appetizer in a campaign expected to run up one of the costliest tabs of any Senate contest across the country. 

Neither campaign or party is running attacks on TV right now. But the early themes previewed in digital ads, which can be released with much less expense, are likely to show up throughout the campaign.

Gallego’s online jab slammed Lake for flip-flopping her stance on the state’s 1864 abortion ban, rolling back tape showing the former TV anchor praising the law in 2022 during her unsuccessful bid for Arizona’s governorship.

“We have a great law on the books right now,” Lake said in the clip featured in Gallego’s digital advertisement. “I believe it’s ARS 13-3603,” Lake goes on, leaving little doubt about which law she was referencing

The NRSC’s attack gets personal. “Ruben Gallego walked out on his family, abandoning his newborn son, leaving his wife, and then marrying a D.C. lobbyist,” a female narrator says, calling him “deadbeat dad Ruben Gallego.”

Gallego split from his then-wife, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, in 2016. The mayor has since endorsed the congressman in his bid for retiring independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat.

The NRSC said its new ad will run across digital platforms and target female voters. “Arizona women can’t trust a man who divorced his wife when she was weeks away from having their child,” NRSC spokesperson Tate Mitchell said in a statement.

While the online ad spending is dipping into negative territory, Gallego is already spending millions of dollars on positive statewide TV ads, introducing himself to voters as a Marine veteran who was raised by a single mother and voted in Congress to lower drug prices.

Gallego has spent nearly $3.8 million on TV ads so far this year, according to AdImpact, while Lake has spent about $30,000.

Gallego’s not just outspending Lake — he’s outraising her too. His campaign raised $7.5 million in the first quarter of 2024, while Lake’s raised $3.6 million, according to recent Federal Election Commission filings. Gallego spent $4.4 million and ended the quarter with about $9.6 million in the bank, while Lake spent $2.2 million and ended the quarter with $2.5 million on hand.

During a rally in Lake Havasu City over the weekend, Lake noted these spring splurges are just the beginning.

“This is going to be an expensive race — $250 million is going to be spent in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona,” Lake predicted to the crowd.

She added, “You guys are gonna get so sick of the TV ads, you’re gonna want to, like, throw your TV off the balcony.”

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