Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) has a fitting analogy for the current state of the mid-term elections: “It’s fourth and goal, and we’re going for it,” Pence says. “And the other side knows we’re going for it.”
Politico reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee will take out a bank loan of $6.5 million — and possibly more — to bolster a planned expansion of TV ad buys into seven new target districts now seen to be competitive. The committee as already reserved time in 55 congressional districts this fall. This new push will increase that number to 62 and bring total NRCC television spending to a whopping $45 million, far more than GOP strategists expected to have for the cycle:
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: Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop, Illinois Rep. Phil Hare, and Ohio Rep. Zack Space, and Colorado Rep. John Salazar.
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 November 3rd, we’ll look back and know that we left everything on the field,” said an NRCC source familiar with the effort.
House Republicans are pledging their own funds to the effort. Members pledged $4 million at a conference at the Capitol Hill Club last week, with House Minority Leader John Boehner giving $1 million.
An NRCC official confirmed the report to BATTLE ‘10, but said this does not mark a shift in strategy, rather a continuation. The official said that heading into November the committee will continue to monitor these target districts and left open the possibility that additional districts could be added to the list.
Meanwhile, American Crossroads, a third-party group linked to Karl Rove that has already spent about $18 million in Senate races around the country, is expecting to announce its expansion into House races later this week.
The DCCC is working to shore up its defense:
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 in 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.