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Greg Bluestein

Michelle Nunn calls on GOP rivals to ‘refuse’ third-party ads

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With millions of dollars in outside spending already shaping Georgia’s Senate race, Democrat Michelle Nunn is calling for a “Peach State pledge” with her two potential GOP rivals to refuse third-party ads. The nonprofit executive sent a letter Wednesday to Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue, who square off in the July 22 GOP runoff, urging them to vow to reject third-party ads in the general campaign.

U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at the Majestic Diner in Atlanta.

Democrat Michelle Nunn, pictured with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, is readying for a general election campaign in her bid for Senate. AJC file

Super PACs and outside groups have bombarded the airwaves ahead of the May 20 primary and this month’s runoff, and millions more will likely be spent through November as Nunn finds herself in the crosshairs.

By their nature, super PACs aren’t allowed to coordinate with campaigns, so even if the three candidates agree to “refuse” the ads, they could continue to run unabated.

But Nunn said in the letter that the pledge would send a signal that Georgians are “tired of politics as usual.” In the Massachusetts Senate run in 2012, Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Scott Brown signed a similar agreement, though it carried a penalty of 50 percent of the cost of ads by an outside group that would go toward a charity of the opposition’s choosing. The idea has caught on.

Candidates in this election cycle in Senate races in Alaska, Kentucky and New Hampshire have all proposed similar pledges, and the Democratic contenders for Rhode Island’s governor’s seat have already signed up. Nunn’s campaign indicated she would only abide by the pledge if the two GOP contenders did so as well.

Leslie Shedd of Georgia Victory, a group created to help the eventual GOP nominee, called Nunn’s pledge a “political stunt” and noted that Nunn, too, has a super PAC at her disposal.

Said Shedd:

“Nunn will directly benefit from the super PAC that was formed by her campaign chairman’s partner to exclusively raise money to spend supporting her Senate bid.  It’s hypocritical, deceptive, and an absolute sham.”

Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey was not biting either. He chimes in with this:

“This is yet another example of Michelle Nunn’s empty rhetoric. I doubt she has told President Obama, Harry Reid, or her friends in Washington to spend their money elsewhere.”

Here’s a copy of Nunn’s letter:

July 9, 2014

Dear Congressman Kingston and Mr. Perdue,

I write today to ask you to agree to a Peach State Pledge — a pledge to refuse spending by outside groups in Georgia’s U.S. Senate Race. In many cases, these groups will never be forced to disclose who is backing them — preventing Georgians from seeing who is trying to influence our election.  

And unlike television advertisements from each of our campaigns — where by virtue of a clear disclaimer voters know who to hold accountable for the message — that is not the case with third party advertisements. I believe we have an opportunity to send a message to Washington.  

If we can join together and pledge to limit outside spending and third party ads, we can together show that the people of our state are tired of politics as usual.  

That message isn’t exclusively a Democratic message or a Republican message, it’s just common sense. I urge you to seriously consider this offer and have representatives of our respective campaigns meet in the coming days to work on a formal agreement ahead of the General Election.

Sincerely, Michelle Nunn

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