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GOP groups target Senate incumbents on health care

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican outside political group says it will spend more than $2 million in advertising in the coming weeks to tie Senate Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Americans for Prosperity says it will spend $1.7 million in North Carolina and $500,000 in Louisiana during the next three weeks on television ads critical of the two Democrats facing re-election next year, with an additional amount on radio and web ads. Republicans have several candidates competing in the primary in both states.

Separately, a Republican super PAC says it plans to spend more than $300,000 on TV ads in Kentucky opposing Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The Senate Conservatives Action ad says McConnell has let down Kentucky voters on the so-called “Obamacare” law. A group connected to the super PAC has endorsed businessman Matt Bevin in the Republican primary.

The ads show how PPACA could play a prominent role in next year’s midterm elections, both in Republican primaries and in the general election. Republicans need to gain six seats in the Senate to regain control.

Matt Canter, deputy executive director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said it was “not a coincidence” that Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, chose North Carolina and Louisiana to run its ads. “There’s a sense that these races are getting away from the Republicans,” he said.

Hagan and Landrieu are among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in next year’s elections but Republicans have yet to coalesce around a challenger. In North Carolina, the GOP field includes House Speaker Thom Tillis, Dr. Greg Brannon, the Rev. Mark Harris and Heather Grant. In Louisiana, Republicans seeking the seat include Rep. Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force colonel Rob Maness but other candidates may join the race.

In Kentucky, conservatives have criticized McConnell for not sufficiently opposing Obama on the health care overhaul and spending. McConnell’s campaign said the outside Republican group was spending money against “the man responsible for leading the opposition to the law” and its approach could ensure that Obama has a Senate majority during his final two years.

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