From the Schilling for Congress campaign (17th District)…
Politico: “The newly added targets include Phil Hare of Illinois”
House Republicans plan $45 million TV ad blitz
-By Alex Isenstadt
House Republicans have drafted a go-for-broke blueprint for the final weeks of the midterm campaign that will bring them to $45 million in television ad spending, with spots reserved in 62 congressional districts across the nation. POLITICO has learned that the National Republican Congressional Committee will take a bank loan of at least $6.5 million – but likely more – to expand its ad buys into seven additional districts beyond the 55 where the committee has already reserved time.
According to an NRCC source familiar with the effort, the newly added targets include five Democrats whose districts, until recently, were thought to be out of reach this year: Reps. Tim Walz of Minnesota, Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Phil Hare of Illinois, Zack Space of Ohio and John Salazar of Colorado.
Republican strategists say that the $45 million figure is far more than they expected the committee to have for the fall campaign and represents an effort to take full advantage of the Republican-friendly political environment by investing in as many potentially winnable Democratic districts as possible. The NRCC initially reserved $22 million across 41 districts in August before expanding to $35 million in 55 districts in September.
“When we look up at the scoreboard on Nov. 3rd, we’ll look back and know that we left everything on the field,” said an NRCC source familiar with the effort.
To help finance the effort, House Republicans are also leaning on members for a late flood of cash. At a conference-wide meeting last week at the Capitol Hill Club, members donated or pledged a combined $4 million to NRCC coffers, with $1 million coming from House Minority Leader John Boehner.
All of it is designed to stretch the map as wide as possible. In recent weeks, Republicans have also begun airing ads targeting Democratic Reps. Ike Skelton of Missouri, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Jim Marshall of Georgia and Jerry McNerney of California – a tier of races that were once thought to be less competitive but now are seen as in play.
The committee is searching for new targets of opportunity as party strategists come closer to finalizing their roster of races. The NRCC has begun polling in three additional districts, including the Eastern Iowa-based seat of Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack.
“We need to look no farther than the current playing field to see how badly the political environment has deteriorated for the majority party,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions wrote in a memo circulated Tuesday morning by the committee. “Throughout the summer and now into the fall, the playing field has continuously expanded, pulling once-safe Democrats into the fray to join their endangered colleagues.”
Bolstering GOP efforts is a collection of outside groups attacking Democrats whom the NRCC will not have the funds to run ads against. Organizations ranging from the 60 Plus Association to Americans for Job Security to American Future Fund are targeting Democrats like Reps. Bruce Braley of Iowa, Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Ron Kind of Wisconsin.
American Crossroads, a group that has been linked to Karl Rove and that has spent about $18 million on Senate races across the country, is expected to announce later this week that it is expanding into House races.
Democratic strategists privately reject the notion that Republicans will succeed in expanding the field far beyond the immediate list of members who party leaders have considered vulnerable. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has so far invested over $49 million in TV airtime across 65 districts – an amount that already exceeds the expected NRCC spending.
Democratic officials expect the DCCC to outspend the NRCC this cycle – though it’s unclear by just how much. At the end of August, the DCCC enjoyed a $14 million cash advantage, dramatically less than the nearly $40 million cash edge it had over the NRCC at that same point in 2008.