Reading between the lines of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $44-million fall ad reservation reveals some surprises.
Arkansas is the only one of those states with a competitive statewide race, meaning ad buys will remain relatively cheap through the fall and Democrats have no immediate need to lock in lower rates with early buys. And Gibson is facing Democrat Sean Eldridge, who is expected to self-fund.
It also passes over Rep. Patrick Murphy in Florida’s 18th District, once considered a top GOP target but who has emerged as a prolific fundraiser and has avoided any strong opponents. The same goes for Rep. Cheri Bustos in Illinois’s 17th District, who looks safer than she did at the beginning of the cycle.
But some of the inclusions speak as loudly as the DCCC’s omissions. The committee is spending on Pennsylvania's 6th District, where Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) is retiring, and the state’s 8th District, where Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) is running for reelection, both tough gets for the party. It’s also reserving airtime in the districts of Michigan GOP Reps. Dan Benishek, Tim Walberg, Kerry Bentivolio and Mike Rogers, who’s retiring. And they’ve reserved time in Arkansas’ open 2nd District, and in Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) district, both of which are long shots.
All four of those states have competitive statewide races, and locking in lower advertising rates early gives Democrats the option of taking advantage of a favorable climate, depending on how the top of the ticket performs, for cheap.
The committee also hinted the party’s not entirely confident in California’s 26th District, where Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley is up for reelection, Connecticut’s 5th District, where Republicans haven’t found a strong challenger for Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D), and, perhaps most surprisingly, New York’s 11th District, where it plans to spend nearly $1 million this fall despite GOP Rep. Michael Grimm’s indictment.
Some of those holes will be filled by outside Democratic groups, which are barred from coordinating from the parties but can now see where they’re needed. And the reservations can — and will — shift as the map develops.
Indeed, the early buys are a reminder of how much things can change in a few short months.
VETS GROUP TARGETS DEMS: Concerned Veterans For America is launching a six-figure ad campaign targeting Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Warner (Va.) — all facing competitive reelection fights — and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), meant to pressure the lawmakers into backing the 2014 Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act.
MS-SEN (COCHRAN): Jeppie Barbour, the brother of former Gov. Haley Barbour, has endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel in his primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — breaking with both of his sons, who are actively supporting Cochran, and his brother, who has endorsed the senator. Meanwhile, Citizens United launched a new ad for McDaniel that features former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the state’s GOP primary when he ran for president last year, endorsing the challenger. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will appear at a rally for McDaniel on Friday, just four days out from the primary.
OK-SEN (OPEN): Former Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) picked up the backing of former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) in his bid for the Senate.
OR-SEN (MERKLEY): A new Public Policy Polling survey gives Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) 50 percent support among Oregon registered voters to GOP challenger Monica Wehby’s 36 percent support, with another 15 percent of respondents undecided. The survey also shows Wehby deeply underwater with voters, while Merkley is seen favorably by a plurality of respondents.
MI-SEN (OPEN): Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) dodged questions about her opposition to the auto bailout and struggled to coherently answer a question about net neutrality.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
DCCC CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR SHINSEKI'S RESIGNATION: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) became the first member of House Democratic leadership to call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.
CA-52 (PETERS): Republican Carl DeMaio's campaign office was broken into and vandalized.
CA-31 (OPEN): The League of Conservation Voters officially endorsed Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), days after it sent out mailers attacking former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.).
KS-04 (POMPEO): Former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) on Thursday announced his plans to primary Rep. Mike Pompeo, looking to take back his old seat. The Club for Growth immediately came out backing Pompeo in the race.
AL-06 (OPEN): Surgeon Chad Mathis, one of a handful candidates vying for the GOP nomination in Alabama’s heavily Republican 6th District, launched a new ad just five days out from the primary featuring his kids panning his cooking skills but touting his potential as a member of Congress.
O'MALLEY: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is heading to Iowa, the latest signal he's keeping his options open on a 2016 run.
CLINTON: Hillary Clinton will face questions about Benghazi, the 2016 presidential election and her new book in a joint interview Fox News has secured for next month. Meanwhile, she stopped in for a surprise lunch with President Obama on Thursday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I've been confused for Anthony Weiner twice now. I don't know how this keeps happening."