WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans are about to ramp up spending on television ads in seven battleground states, part of a record $53 million messaging campaign aimed at winning a majority in the chamber in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the party's Senate caucus, said the ads will target competitive races in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
The first new ads are slated to begin on Friday in Arizona and North Carolina. In previous years, the group has held off on spring and summer advertising until June.
The ads will seek to blame President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress for crime rates, skyrocketing inflation, higher gas prices and illegal immigration, according to NRSC Executive Director Jackie Schutz Zeckman.
"The NRSC ... has reserved the largest amount of ad time (of) any election cycle ... and will start spending earlier than ever before to make sure we define these radical Democrats and send them packing in November," Zeckman said in a statement.
The NRSC has already spent more than $3 million on ads in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.
The group plans to spend $15.4 million over the spring and summer and has reserved $32.7 million in advertising for the fall. Another $2.6 million has been set aside for hybrid ads that include TV and digital messaging.
"Senate Republicans are panicking," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesperson Nora Keefe, who predicted Republicans would be defeated in November because of flawed candidates and issues including abortion rights.
The DSCC has reserved $33 million in ads for the fall.
The 100-seat Senate is currently split 50-50, with Democrats controlling the chamber by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote.
Republicans hope to flip Democratic-held seats in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire. They are defending open Republican seats in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and aiding Senator Ron Johnson's reelection campaign in Wisconsin, which is rated a toss-up.
The NRSC has raised $147.8 million in the current election cycle and ended March with $44 million in cash on hand. The DSCC has raised $129.4 million and had $43.7 million in cash on hand on March 31, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)