Democrat Bob Kerrey has called on his rival, Republican Deb Fischer, to sign an agreement in which both U.S. Senate candidates would ask super PACs to stay out of the Nebraska race.
Fischer declined, saying she respects the constitutional right of super PACs to exist, although she may not always agree with their messages. The two are running for the seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson.
Kerrey's request comes as he has been hammered for months with negative television advertisements purchased by Republican-led super PACs. Two groups — Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads — have spent more than $2 million on ads against Kerrey.
Fischer has also faced negative ads purchased by outside groups. The Nebraska Democratic Party has spent about $550,000 on anti-Fischer ads, funded by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. However, that committee is not a super PAC.
The new independent political committees grew out of a controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision called Citizens United, which essentially allows wealthy individuals, unions and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns.
Kerrey called on Fischer to join him in agreeing to “vigorously oppose” super PAC spending, after he saw a television interview in which Fischer questioned the rise in super PAC spending in Nebraska.
“Our bipartisan agreement could have a very positive impact and send a wonderful signal to the nation about our values,” Kerrey wrote to Fischer.
Fischer responded that Kerrey's request was an effort to “distract voters” from the issues, saying he knows that super PACs have a right to run ads.
She also noted that his agreement would not prohibit groups such as the Democratic senatorial committee from running negative ads against her.
“I believe in our Constitution and the rights it accords citizens and organizations,” she said.
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