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Group's ads praise Kansas governor over coal plant

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm •  Published: July 17, 2014
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Washington-area group with ties to veteran Republican operatives is spending at least $246,000 on radio and television advertisements in Kansas markets praising conservative GOP Gov. Sam Brownback ahead of the state's primary election, records showed Thursday.

The Alliance for Freedom ads also attempt to build public support for a proposed coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas and stir opposition to the federal Environmental Protection Agency as it attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. Brownback supports the $2.8 billion coal plant and has criticized a new EPA rule on power-plant emissions as "a war against middle America."

The alliance's 30-second television ad began Wednesday, criticizing Democratic President Barack Obama, touting Brownback's support for the coal plant, praising him for "fighting back" against the EPA and urging people to join his "fight for Kansas jobs and cheaper energy." The spot and a 60-second radio ad with similar content are scheduled to run through the Aug. 5 primary.

Television ad contracts available through the Federal Communications Commission's website list a longtime conservative GOP consultant, Barry Bennett, as the alliance's president and an Alexandria, Virginia, address that also houses his consulting firm. Bennett has worked for political action committees associated with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and one of the firm's partners is Mary Cheney, daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

Brownback is facing a potentially tough re-election race in his GOP-leaning state, partly because of questions about whether massive personal income tax cuts enacted at his urging are stimulating the economy as promised or wrecking the state's finances.

Democratic challenger Paul Davis is aggressively wooing disaffected GOP moderates. In the Republican primary, Brownback faces Jennifer Winn, the owner of a Wichita-area building and grounds management company.

"It's telling that he has to shore up support ahead of the primary," Dakota Loomis, a spokesman for the Kansas Democratic Party, said of Brownback.

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