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Two Tough Democrats Senate Ads Focus on Opioid Epodemic

Majority Forward, a major Democratic outside group, is launching two new spots that punch at two Republicans—West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn—on the opioid crisis.

Both new television ads are part of existing seven-figure buys in the state—the group has $1.3 million booked in West Virginia and $3.5 million booked in Tennessee from Friday through Election Day.

The West Virginia spot includes a firefighter and paramedic in the state recounting stories of responding to overdoses in the state while criticizing Morrisey for his past work lobbying for drug companies.

"I don't think Patrick Morrisey wants to see what hell's been wrought by drug companies he lobbied for," the man says.

"How can you trust someone who got rich while West Virginians suffered?"

And the Tennessee ad accuses a Blackburn bill for neutering the Drug Enforcement Agency in the fight against illegal drugs.

"Blackburn's what's wrong with Washington," the ad says.

These attacks have been central to the Democratic push against the two candidates, as they look to connect with voters' personal experiences with the epidemic that has hit both states hard.

Morrisey's drug lobbying past (as well as his wife's) was an issue during the primary election too as opponents sought to link him to the devastating epidemic in the state. He argued during debates that he didn't work on opioid issues specifically and Republicans have also raised the connections of his opponent, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, to Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

""Washington liberals will do anything to distract from Manchin's record of being asleep at the switch as the drug epidemic took root in West Virginia. Morrisey has been a national leader in combating the drug epidemic, reaching record settlements, and forcing the DEA to crack down on the supply of illicit drugs," Morrisey spokesman Nathan Brand said in a statement.

The attack against Blackburn has also been levied by her opponent, Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen. It centers on her support for a bill at the center of a Washington Post and CBS "60 Minutes" expose that blamed the bill for tying the DEAs hands behind its back in its push to fight drug trafficking.

Supporters of the bill say it had been initially intended to make sure no one would lose access to pain medication unnecessarily. But after the story broke last year, Blackburn's office told The Tennessean that she wants to "immediately" address "unintended consequences from this bipartisan legislation." And as PolitiFact noted, she now supports a bill that rolls back those changes.

"As a mother, grandmother and friend, Marsha understands how deeply the opioid epidemic is hurting Tennessee families. She regularly meets with victims, healthcare providers, and law enforcements officers across the state to discuss steps the federal government should take to end the opioid epidemic. Recently, she introduced bipartisan bills to increase civil and criminal penalties for bad actors and give law enforcement the tools they need," Blackburn spokeswoman Abbi Sigler said in a statement.

"While Democrats point fingers and politicize a public health crisis, Marsha will continue to work toward a systemic solution that includes a tough stance on the distribution of illicit opioids and improves prevention and recovery efforts."

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