(The Hill) – A Republican super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is canceling advertisements in Arizona less than three months out from the midterm elections, a possible sign of problems for the Trump-backed GOP candidate challenging Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
The Senate Leadership Fund called off its advertisement reservations that were set to air in Arizona between Sept. 6 and Oct. 3, according to AdImpact.
The cancellation totaled about $8 million, according to Politico, which is roughly half of what the PAC had initially planned to run in the Grand Canyon State. Advertisements from the group are now set to begin in the beginning of October instead of early fall.
The decrease in advertising money comes as Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters continues to struggle in his bid against Kelly, who remains ahead in FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls, 50.3% to 42%.
Former President Trump and GOP mega-donor Peter Thiel both support Masters’ candidacy, but other Republicans feared he would be a weaker opponent to Kelly.
Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law said the change was in part due to the $28 million ad buy the PAC made in Ohio last week to bolster Republican nominee J.D. Vance, who is running against Rep. Tim Ryan (D) for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R).
Ryan and Vance appear to be in a close race in Ohio, a state the GOP had hoped would be more safely in its grasp.
“We’re leaving the door wide open in Arizona, but we want to move additional resources to other offensive opportunities that have become increasingly competitive, as well as an unexpected expense in Ohio,” Law told Politico.
“We think the fundamentals of this election strongly favor Republicans, we see multiple paths to winning the majority, and we are going to invest heavily and strategically to achieve that goal,” he added.
The super PAC is also slashing advertising in Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is running for reelection, according to Politico. The incumbent advanced to the general election, along with Trump-backed candidate Kelly Tshibaka.
Murkowski secured roughly 44% of the vote, while Tshibaka won 39% support.
The advertising dollar decrease in Alaska — roughly $1.7 million, according to Politico — is a sign that the party is confident with the incumbent’s odds, Law said. The super PAC’s ads supporting the candidate are set to begin on Sept. 20.
“We are all-in for Senator Murkowski. Senator Murkowski is in a very strong position and based on that decided to push back our start date,” Law told Politico.
The shift in advertisement funding comes as odds of flipping the Senate red in November appear to be diminishing.
In Kentucky last week, McConnell told reporters Republicans had a better chance of winning control of the House than the Senate, pointing to “candidate quality” — a veiled reference to Masters, Vance and Trump-backed nominees in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” McConnell said when asked about his midterm expectations.
“Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly,” he added.
The statement came in stark contrast to McConnell’s comments in November, when he said the midterm races would be “very good” for Republicans.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats are favored to win control of the upper chamber over Republicans, 65% to 35%.