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Vulnerable Republican senators avoid Trump in campaign ads

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Senate Republicans facing tough reelections this November aren’t taking aim at President Donald Trump, but they aren’t linking up with him either. Instead, they are choosing to promote their legislative accomplishments and work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans are facing their toughest campaigns in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina.

Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, is seeking her fifth term. Her campaign has poured almost $6 million in TV and online ads that focus on her work to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act.

“Sen. Collins has stepped up in a critical way to fight for Mainers most affected, and her leadership on the Paycheck Protection Program is a huge asset to Maine small businesses,” said Sen. Todd Young, who leads the Republican Senate campaign apparatus.  

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) is also in a tough reelection. He has praised his state’s Democratic governor but not yet mentioned the president in a campaign ad. Instead, Gardner is using the star power of some of his Republican Senate colleagues.

Incumbent senators have the advantage of being able to highlight their work for their constituents, while challengers sometimes come across as only criticizing.

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project has not given Collins or Gardner a free pass during the campaign. The group continues to call out the senators for not speaking out against the president, labeling them enablers.

However, not all Republican Senators are running away from Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently released an ad detailing his relationship with the president.

“Leader McConnell has worked with presidents from both parties through moments of crisis to protect our nation and deliver for Kentucky,” said McConnell spokesperson Kate Cooksey.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) are also notable exceptions to the strategy of running away from Trump. Loeffler is in a tight primary race against Trump ally, Congressman Doug Collins. Sessions, who finds himself on the receiving end of plenty of criticism from President Trump, is still praising the president and promoting his work in the Trump White House.

Republicans maintain a narrow majority in the Senate and hope to keep it come November.

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