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Flip in funding raises questions about U.S. Senate race

Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-08 19:01:34-04

MICHIGAN - There are questions about whether the race for U.S. Senate in Michigan is still competitive after it was reported on Tuesday that the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) announced it was pulling $850,000 in television advertising.

It’s money that would have been spent to support Terri Lynn Land in her campaign against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters.

“It tells me that the party is not confident that Terri Lynn Land has a meaningful chance of winning,” said Kurt Pyle, an assistant professor of political science at Calvin College. “Michigan, despite being competitive on a state-wide level for Republicans maybe is not a gettable race for the Republicans in terms of national races.”

FOX 17 reached out to NRSC independent expenditure committee consultant Ron Bonjean, who said Michigan is still a competitive race.

"We are monitoring this state very closely and think that Terri Lynn has an excellent chance to win.  No one should be surprised to see us make a significant investment in this race in the coming days and weeks.  However, right now the other outside allied groups have Michigan well covered.  We will be making more decisions on the race during the next four weeks and strongly believe Terri Lynn Land will be a US Senator on November 4th.”

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network says Land and her supporters have spent $18.2 million on the race while Peters and his supporters have spent $14.1 million.

But professor Pyle suggests it’s not all about the money.

“In terms of the national party and what the national party stands for it’s not resonating in the same way, perhaps, as the state-level has been able to achieve,” Pyle explained.

The Peters campaign, in a statement to FOX 17, agreed.

"Despite being outspent 2:1 on false, negative attacks from Land and her special interest allies like the Koch Brothers, Gary has all the momentum because he's the only candidate that Michigan middle class families and small businesses can count on,” said Zade Alsawah, Deputy Communications Director with Peters For Michigan. “Gary will continue to focus on kitchen table issues and meeting with Michiganders all across the state, as he has been doing since the start of his campaign."

Despite losing money from the NRSC, the president of Ending Spending Action Fund told Politico it has increased and extended its existing $1.2 million Michigan ad buy.

"From New York City to San Francisco, billionaires are lining up to buy the election for Gary Peters because he supports policies that will cost Michigan 100,000 jobs and cause home heating prices to skyrocket.,” said Heather Swift, Land Campaign Spokeswoman. “Terri Lynn Land on the other hand has the support of workers and families across Michigan and she will continue to talk directly to voters about the issues that matter to them."

A poll released Thursday afternoon by Republican firm Wenzel Strategies put the Peters-Land race within the margin of error.

Polling aggregator Real Clear Politics lists 10 U.S. Senate races they believe are toss ups; Michigan is not among them.

RCP’s average spread of polling data has Peters ahead by eight points.