GOP targets House Democrats in Trump districts using viral video of Philly lawmaker harassing anti-abortion protesters

    Ads from the HRCC targeting Democratic incumbents using Rep. Brian Sims' viral videos. (Screenshot of HRCC Facebook)

    The campaign arm for Pennsylvania’s state House Republicans ran social media ads targeting Democratic lawmakers in battleground districts using a much-maligned viral video of Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, harassing anti-abortion rights protesters.

    According to its Facebook page, the House Republican Campaign Committee ran a series of ads earlier this month urging constituents in eight Democrat-controlled districts to call their representative and condemn Sims.

    Some of the ads, which ran for a week, featured a photo of Sims flipping off a camera ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Philadelphia last year. Others featured a screenshot of Sims in a video he recorded outside a Planned Parenthood that drew national condemnation. 

    The ads linked to a website, paid for by the HRCC, that declared “PA State Rep. Brian Sims is Full of Hate.”

    Sims’ videos, as well as other outrage-inducing incidents from lawmakers, led to a rare scolding of the chamber from both Republican Majority Leader Bryan Cutler and Democratic Minority Leader Frank Dermody.

    The ads targeted Dermody, as well as Reps. Frank Burns, Mike Carroll, Bridget Malloy Kosierowski, Gerald Mullery, Joe Petrarca, Chris Sainato, and Pam Snyder.

    All represent conservative Democratic districts in the western and northeastern parts of the state. In 2016, President Donald Trump won each district with between 50 to 70 percent of the vote, according to data collected by the liberal news blog The Daily Kos.

    Neither the HRCC nor committee Chair Greg Rothman, a Republican state lawmaker from Cumberland County, responded to request for comment. 

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