03/28/2012 06:53 pm ET

Democrats Campaign Off Oil Subsidy Debate

Democrats are taking their oil debate off the Senate floor and onto the campaign trail this week, launching a series of online ads and a petition targeting a half-dozen Republican Senate candidates.

“From Scott Brown to Dean Heller to George Allen, Republicans on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail have made protecting multi-billion dollar tax breaks for their Big Oil campaign contributors the cornerstone of their agenda. It’s unbelievable that Republicans continue to go to bat for Big Oil companies who are raking in ridiculous profits while consumers are stuck with skyrocketing prices at the pump,” said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “It’s time for Republicans to stand up for consumers, not their Big Oil contributors, starting with tomorrow’s vote.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) offered oil legislation this week that would strip about $24 billion in subsidies from the five biggest oil companies.

Democrats think letting oil companies keep taxpayer-backed subsidies while they reap record profits of prices at the pump is a winner for them. The online ads target Senate candidate Allen in Virginia, Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana, Senate candidate Josh Mandel in Ohio, Sen. Heller of Nevada, Rep. Jeff Flake in Arizona, and Rep. Connie Mack in Florida.

Although the GOP repeatedly has voted against cutting subsidies, Republican senators voted to let the Senate debate the bill in hopes of making the debate solely about gas prices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued that it shows joust how out of touch Democrats are.