Dan O'Dowd, a tech billionaire running for U.S. Senate in California, is running ads questioning Tesla's self-driving technology in other states across the country, including Maine.

A California tech billionaire who has focused his longshot U.S. Senate campaign on technology safety is running ads in Maine arguing Tesla’s self-driving cars are unsafe.

Dan O’Dowd, a software company founder, launched a Senate bid in his home state this week. He is running as a Democrat in the state’s nonpartisan primary but faces steep odds of being elected as incumbent Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat, remains the heavy favorite.

The early ad spending suggests O’Dowd may have aims other than getting himself elected. So far, his self-funded campaign has spent $2 million on ads that span markets in 36 states, Politico reported. That includes Maine, where the campaign is spending at least $8,300 to run ads mostly on daytime TV in the Portland market, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission, which tracks political advertising.

The one-minute ad that began running here on Tuesday features videos of self-driving Tesla cars crashing or nearly crashing and making basic driving errors. The ad ends by asking viewers to raise the issue with Congress. Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, is the world’s richest person and has dominated headlines in recent days with an offer to buy Twitter. The company has responded to similar concerns by insisting the technology is safe.

The ads include a voiceover from O’Dowd saying he approves their contents, a standard of political advertising, and text on screen saying they are paid for by his campaign, although they do not explicitly mention that he is a federal candidate.

Mainers are familiar with seeing political ads on TV, particularly after the state’s high-profile U.S. Senate race in 2020 drew more than $150 million in political advertising. But it is very unusual for a candidate seeking political office in another state to run TV ads here.

While O’Dowd may be unlikely to be elected to the Senate, Politico noted that formally running as a candidate and billing the advertisements as political ads could give the claims the tech billionaire makes about Tesla a higher degree of 1st Amendment protection, as courts have generally gone to greater lengths to safeguard political speech.