House committees battle in final campaign ads spending blitz

As the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) pours another $10 million into independent expenditure (IE) ads targeting vulnerable House Democrats, the committee is upping its presence in a handful of districts where its Democratic counterpart has yet to spend or has spent only marginally to defend its incumbents. 

One spot where the NRCC has spent big while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has remained on the sidelines to this point: New Hampshire's 1st congressional district, where Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) was the target of another major IE buy from the NRCC over the weekend. 

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Republicans are spending another $322,000 targeting the two-term Democrat this week. In all, the NRCC has spent just over $1 million hitting Shea-Porter, while the DCCC has yet to spend in the district. 

Adding to the GOP ad onslaught, former New York Gov. George Pataki's (R) Revere America PAC has spent an additional $740,000 targeting Shea-Porter on her healthcare vote.  

More notable spending for the NRCC — another $243,000 for a media buy against Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.), a district the committee didn't make a major play in until mid-October. It's a sign the GOP might have some renewed confidence in Republican Tim Burns, who lost a special election to Critz last year. The DCCC has spent heavily targeting Burns. 

The NRCC also added to its IE spending in other districts where Democrats have spent heavily to help embattled members survive. The NRCC spent just shy of $300,000 against Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), another $246,000 against Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), $183,000 targeting Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and $337,000 hitting Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.). 

Those are all members who have been near the top of the DCCC's priority list in terms of IE dollars.    

The committee is blitzing Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.) with another $408,000 in IE money. Hare is polling below the 40 percent mark, according to numbers from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll released last week. Republican Bobby Schilling led the incumbent 45 percent to 38.   

Repubicans have also stepped up their spending against Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.), pouring another $139,000 into a media buy this week. Bishop has been an Americans for Tax Reform target, as well. Democrats have spent close to $400,000 defending Bishop. 

Last week, the party's House campaign chief, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), said some Democratic incumbents ignored warnings from the party leadership about the tough political climate and didn't "fully prepare" for the campaign season. 

Also last week, the DCCC cut off air support for several incumbents, including Reps. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.). 

Van Hollen wouldn’t name the members he thought were caught napping. But he did say Skelton was one example of a member who took the committee's advice and prepared for a tough environment. The DCCC has already spent more than half a million dollars targeting Skelton's GOP opponent, to counter close to a million in NRCC spending. 

The DCCC over the weekend also waded into the open-seat contest in Pennsylvania's 7th district, spending some $235,000 on a buy targeting Republican Pat Meehan.

-Sean Miller contributed to this post.
-Corrected at 10:15 a.m. This post incorrectly reported that the NRCC is spending against Rep. Patrick Murphy. 

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