Third party candidates often face criticism for being spoiler candidates, but Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) doesn’t seem to mind his Libertarian opponent. In fact, he bought ads trying to get him more votes according to a report by the Daily Beast.
Sen. Donnelly faces a tight reelection bid to be Indiana’s senator. His opponent, former Republican Congressman Mike Braun. The two candidates have alternated leading in polls throughout the campaign, with the polling average from Real Clear Politics granting Sen. Donnelly only a 0.8 point lead.
This race could be decided by just a handful of voters which is why Sen. Donnelly has been buying ads supporting his Libertarian Party opponent, Lucy Brenton.
While that doesn’t seem like much, Sen. Donnelly is hoping that moderates who lean toward the right will support the Libertarian candidate instead.
Because of that, Sen. Donnelly’s campaign bought more than a half-dozen ads with messages like, “Lucy Brenton is the true anti-tax conservative.”
The ads were run by pages titled Tax Hike Mike Braun and Hoosier Conservatives which turned out to be pages made Indiana Democrats on Wednesday according to the Daily Beast.
President Donald Trump called out Sen. Donnelly for the fake ads, comparing him to Russian election hackers.
Rumor has it that Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is paying for Facebook ads for his so-called opponent on the libertarian ticket. Donnelly is trying to steal the election? Isn’t that what Russia did!?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2018
Several others also responded to the report, calling the Donnelly campaign “shameless.”
— Tony Katz (@tonykatz) November 2, 2018
In 2016, 57.2 percent of Indiana voters voted for President Trump and 37.9 percent of voters voted for Hillary Clinton. Although the two candidates had very low favorability going into the election, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson didn’t even receive five percent of the vote.
The movement behind the Libertarian Party in Indiana, like the rest of the country, is weak, to say the least, but if they manage to pull a few hundred voters away from Braun, Sen. Donnelly could manage to keep his seat.