Outside Groups Spend Online in Illinois Congressional Races

The Illinois primaries have drawn online ad dollars from groups weighing in on a handful of congressional races taking place there today. The target of the biggest online ad attack in Illinois, however, is GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.

Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, spent $85,000 this month to buy online advertising opposing Santorum in Illinois, according to ClickZ Politics analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. The group is running TV spots in the state attacking Santorum as a Washington insider who raised deficits while in the Senate.

ilya-sheyman-illinois-pcccProgressive Change Campaign Committee is backing 20-something progressive Democrat Ilya Sheyman with $20,000 worth of online display ads, while targeting voters in the state’s 10th district. “Ilya will protect Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts,” states the ad, which has been running for two weeks. The ad also criticizes Sheyman’s opponent Brad Schneider for donating to Republicans.

“What we’re seeing for the 2012 election cycle is that more and more campaigns are finding that their media strategy really isn’t complete without an aggressive online component,” said Michael Snook, chief information officer of the PCCC. “We’re working with other campaigns to replicate the success of Ilya Sheyman’s ad program elsewhere, helping to craft good campaign strategies, making sure they are using the best tools available for their needs, and helping raise the money to actually run the ads,” he continued.

Campaign for Primary Accountability, an anti-spending group, has spent nearly $30,000 on web ads in Illinois this month and around $60,000 in total on online advertising this year in several congressional primaries. Two-thirds of the Illinois buy went towards fighting Rep. Donald Manzullo, a Republican. The self-described anti-incumbent group spent the remainder – $9,000 – to back Rep. Debbie Halvorson and oppose Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. The two Democrat incumbents are running for the same seat as a result of redistricting.

Manzullo is getting help from tea party super PAC FreedomWorks for America, which spent $2,000 on Facebook ads in support of the incumbent. The group has spent around $100,000 on online ads this year in the hopes of defeating Senate candidates including longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Hatch won the Republican caucuses last week despite the ad blitz.

Many of the Illinois races targeted by outside groups represent districts Democrats believe they can win to help retake the House.

In addition, the International Association of Firefighters Interested in Registration and Education PAC is fighting Romney with $2,800 worth of online ads running in Illinois.