As the Kansas Senate race continues to tighten, Republican Congressman Roger Marshall rolled out an ad Friday attacking Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier on a 2012 vote against legislation strengthening penalties for failing to report suspected child abuse.


The ad is the latest in a series of attacks on Bollier’s moderate credentials and comes as recent polling shows a narrow race between the pair.


The issue in question is a 2012 vote Bollier took while in the Kansas House opposing legislation that was drawn up in response to the cover up of child sexual abuse by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.


Bollier was the lone no vote on the legislation, saying at the time that "unintended consequences" that could result.


She pointed to the possibility that volunteers who were not trained to recognize abuse could be charged with a felony if they overheard a conversation about possible abuse and failed to properly report it.


Marshall’s ad lambasted her for the stance, saying "one extremist voted no" out of the 124-member House.


"You’ve probably seen her ads claiming she is moderate. Tell Barbara Bollier there is nothing moderate about covering up child sex abuse," the ad’s voiceover reads. "And there is no excuse for what she did."


It is not the first time that Marshall and his allies have wielded the vote. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, criticized Bollier on the matter in a September op-ed and other Marshall campaign materials have done the same.


But the ad is the latest in a series of Marshall TV spots hitting at Bollier’s efforts to frame herself as a moderate. That includes pointed criticism of past votes she took on abortion legislation and a red flag bill which would have allowed firearms to be temporarily removed from suicidal individuals.


Patrick Miller, professor of political science at the University of Kansas, said that this was a targeted effort, noting that Bollier was a visible moderate Republican until she switched parties in 2018.


"It is smart politics to undo that association with voters," Miller said. "You don’t want to leave her, if you’re a Republican, to claim the moderate label. You want to spoil that."


In a statement, Bollier criticized the ad as misleading and her campaign pointed to her work on the state’s Child Welfare Task Force and elsewhere as a sign of her commitment to child welfare.


"This outrageous ad is yet another desperate attempt by Roger Marshall, who will do and say anything to save his struggling campaign," Bollier said in the statement. "As a doctor and more importantly, as a mother, I know personally how critical it is to defend those who need our help the most. I have always stood up for the children of Kansas, and will never stop fighting for their health and safety."


The ad comes amid a record spree of outside spending in the race, which experts believe underscores its competitiveness.


Internal GOP polling obtained by the Sunflower State Journal appears to show Bollier with a slim lead inside the poll’s margin of error. That follows other data from both parties leaked last week which had the race as a toss-up.


That has led to groups associated with both sides running outside ads of their own in an effort to sway voters.


On Tuesday Duty and Country, a Super PAC aligned with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, announced $7.5 million in television and digital advertising in support of Bollier.


And on Thursday NextGen America, a progressive group aimed at increasing youth engagement, announced they would be working in Kansas to turnout voters for Bollier.


Conservative groups have also spent heavily in the race. The Senate Leadership Fund has spent $12 million in support of Marshall over the course of September and October.


The pair are running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. If Bollier wins she would be the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Kansas since 1932.