-By Andrew Migra
December 26, 2011- Watch the political advertising and Elizabeth Warren, the leading Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts, either "sides with extreme left" protesters or has a history of being too cozy with Wall Street. Or Republican freshman Sen. Scott Brown, whom she hopes to defeat next year, is portrayed as an enemy of the environment.
Outside groups on both sides are spending millions of dollars on the race, highlighting the national prominence of the fight over the seat held for nearly 50 years by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. But the level of spending also foreshadows the role that such groups, including special political action committees, will play in many of next fall's big political matchups.
The flood of money and ads from outside the state is expected to surge as the Warren-Brown race intensifies.
"Massachusetts is at the end of the spear of what will be the big trend and the big story of 2012," said Ken Goldstein, president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks spending on political ads.
Super PACs have been showing their strength in marquis Senate races. The Supreme Court, in a trio of decisions capped by the landmark Citizens United case in 2010, eased restrictions on the use of corporate money in political campaigns and paved the way for such spending. Massachusetts is front and center, with the conservative Crossroads GPS spending $1.1 million on one spot casting Warren as aligned with radical elements of the Occupy Wall Street movement and another that has her siding with Wall Street bankers.
Crossroads GPS is an affiliate of American Crossroads, a group with ties to Karl Rove, a top political adviser to President George W. Bush. The groups spent more than $38 million to defeat Democrats in the 2010 midterms, raising money from large donors, including many whose identities remain unknown.
Crossroads GPS was by far the largest and most influential super PAC in that campaign year.
Last month, one Crossroads ad used spliced images of Warren with rowdy Occupy Wall Street protesters to claim that she "sides with extreme left" protesters who "attack police, do drugs and trash public parks."
Warren at one point said her philosophies provided the intellectual underpinnings for the Occupy movement, but she has backed off a bit, saying she supports the movement but that the protesters must follow the law.