Our business here is to monitor indie political groups and their ads, and business has been good. Advocacy groups haven’t run out of money. The bad news? They’ve run out of ideas.

Two new North Carolina ads follow story lines we’ve heard over and over before (not that that’s a bad way to influence voters — it just makes the blog more boring). Here’s one from Freedom’s Watch, blaming Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan for jacking up taxes. Our takeaway: She wants to tax candy?!

Next, Americans for Job Security denounces unions that want to take away secret ballots in union elections. “Hagan’s on their side, not ours,” the ad says, as an armored truck speeds out of Washington, presumably delivering union cash to Hagan. Watch the ad here. There’s a virtually identical ad targeting the Democrat Ronnie Musgrove in a Mississippi Senate race.

Moving along to New Hampshire… Labor unions (those bad guys from the last ad) are piling on to Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) by, predictably, tying him to President Bush. The distinguishing factor? The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees uses a rope metaphor (we’re at the “end of our rope”) and the Service Employees International Union uses a country-store cash register gimmick. We don’t have the AFSCME ad in blogable format, so you’ll have to trust us. Here’s the SEIU ad:

Now follow us to Minnesota for a breath of fresh ideas…

Here’s a theme we haven’t seen before in the battle between Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken: guns!

The National Rifle Association features a host of people concerned or angry at what they think Franken would do to their gun rights. They even get in a subtle jab at Obama: “I don’t want ‘change’ when it comes to my Second Amendment rights.”

Moving back down toward Georgia, we stop over in Kentucky. Campaign Money Watch has a confusing ad faulting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for allegedly using his considerable “clout” against the public’s interest. It’s confusing because after blaming McConnell for blocking lower prescription drug prices and supporting the privatization of Social Security, the ad ends by asking us to “tell him to stop opposing Fair Elections Now Act.”

Say what? It’s less confusing if you know that Campaign Money Watch is part of a group that advocates for public financing of elections, and the Fair Elections Now Act would do that. Is this ad an admission of the obvious, that people care more about pocketbook issues than public financing?

And finally, Georgia. In a sign that the Senate race is tightening, Freedom’s Watch comes to the rescue of GOP incumbent Saxby Chambliss with an ad (below) boosting him for fighting to lower taxes. Freedom’s Watch isn’t really known for mushy thank-you ads (see North Carolina above) but then again, NPR political editor Ken Rudin still says the race “leans Republican.” If it gets closer, then Georgians will likely get more negative ads.

This originally appeared on The Secret Money Project Blog, a joint project of CIR and National Public Radio tracking the hidden cash in the 2008 election.

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Will Evans is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal, covering labor and tech. His reporting has prompted government investigations, legislation, reforms and prosecutions. A series on working conditions at Amazon warehouses was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Gerald Loeb Award. His work has also won multiple Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, including for a series on safety problems at Tesla. Other investigations have exposed secret spying at Uber, illegal discrimination in the temp industry and rampant fraud in California's drug rehab system for the poor. Prior to joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2005, Evans was a reporter at The Sacramento Bee. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.