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New Housley campaign ad features NHL Hall of Fame husband

By STEVE KARNOWSKI

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Republican Karin Housley launched a campaign ad Friday that invokes her husband's hockey celebrity as she tries to close the gap in her race with Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith.

The ad, which is set in a hockey rink, features Housley speaking to the camera about learning the values of "work hard, play fair and do the right thing."

She takes a jab at "career politicians like Tina Smith" who "don't understand our values and just aren't getting anything done." Her husband, NHL Hall of Fame defenseman and Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley, then skates up and gives her a fist bump.

The ad will air in the Twin Cities and Rochester TV markets and run digitally statewide, Housley spokesman Jake Schneider said. He said the campaign made an initial 10-day buy of around $300,000 and will likely spend over $1 million on running it.

The ad debuted the same day that Smith and Planned Parenthood officials called a news conference in St. Paul to oppose the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Smith, a former Planned Parenthood executive, called Kavanaugh "a serious threat to women's freedom to make their own health care decisions," the Star Tribune reported. She also said he would have a significant impact on marriage law, voting rights and environmental policies.

Senate Democrats fought an uphill battle at Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings this week as they tried to depict him as an opponent of abortion rights and a likely defender of President Donald Trump. Democrats see their best shot at blocking his appointment as branding him as a justice who might vote to overturn the high court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, in hopes that two GOP senators who support abortion rights will break from their party and oppose him.

Housley strongly supports Kavanaugh and has portrayed Smith's opposition as partisan obstruction.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith, a longtime Democratic political operative who was his lieutenant governor, to the seat that Sen. Al Franken vacated in January in response to sexual misconduct allegations.

A Suffolk University poll last month gave Smith a 7-percentage point lead in the race, 44 percent to 37 percent. That poll showed 31 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with Housley, a state senator from St. Mary's Point. The poll of 500 likely voters taken from Aug. 17 through Aug. 20 had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The Cook Political Report recently shifted the race from "likely Democratic" to "leans Democratic," indicating that Housley's odds have improved, but two other widely watched handicapping services still rate it as "likely Democratic."

Updated September 7, 2018

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