Ready, set, campaign: 100 days until midterms and battle for Congress

Republicans and Democrats are marking the official start of the campaign season this weekend.

Only 100 days remain before the midterm elections in November, and both parties are pleading with their activists and donors to prepare for a historic battle for control of Congress.

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“If you’re fed up and want to put a stop to the Obama-Pelosi agenda, this is the time to get involved,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said in a video released by the National Republican Congressional Committee on Saturday.

Standing in front of a ticking clock, Boehner notes there are only 100 days before the midterms and goes on to ask viewers to donate time or money to the party. “Believe me, every minute you volunteer and every dollar that you contribute over the next 100 days will make a big impact,” he said.

Republicans have been touting their chances of retaking the House and, despite their almost 2-to-1 financial disadvantage, many observers — including White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs — believe it’s a possibility.

The NRCC recently went into "fundraising mode," Pete Sessions, the committee chairman, told reporters this week. The GOP has a long way to go in a short time to close the money gap with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — at the end of June, the NRCC had $17 million banked compared with more than $33 million for the DCCC.

Despite their financial edge, the Democrats are aware they’re in a tough national environment and up against the historic trend that the president’s party loses seats in the first midterm of his presidency.

With that in mind, President Obama has sought increasingly to energize his supporters enough to vote in November, even though he won't be on the ballot.

“You and I did not build this movement to win one election,” Obama wrote in a recent e-mail to Organizing for America (OFA) activists. “As we face the challenges ahead, I am relying on you to stand with me. “

OFA is the grassroots wing of the Democratic National Committee that evolved from Obama’s 2008 campaign. It’s been focused on registering new voters, holding a national registration drive last weekend.

And the DNC is beginning to move the $50 million it pledged in cash and resources into place. Last week, the committee transferred the first $2 million of $20 million in cash to the DCCC and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The state parties in Florida and Ohio — where several key House and Senate races are playing out — also got a cut of the money.

“We’re firing on all cylinders,” Brandi Hoffine, a spokeswoman for the DNC, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the DCCC has started securing ad time in some 50 television markets. By this weekend, it had reserved close to $25 million in airtime in key districts from Upstate New York to Denver, according to several sources.

Candidates are also using the 100-day milestone to invigorate their supporters. In Iowa, for example, Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin asked supporters to sign up to receive text messages of Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) "greatest misses" from now until Election Day.

"We're launching '100 Days of Grassley', a new way for you to help count down the days until we bring him back to Iowa for good," Conlin, who's vying to unseat the longtime senator, wrote to supporters.

The White House is also preparing for the last 100 days before November.

The president, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and other top administration officials have been vigorously campaigning for Democratic candidates at events around the country.

A White House memo leaked to reporters earlier this month said they’ve participated in 187 political events in the last year and half, "all with the intention of directly supporting candidates on the ballot in 2010 or building up the infrastructure of party committees."

Their schedules will only get busier. But the more the president travels this campaign season, the more political calculations the White House will have to make — and sometimes those can be off. An August fundraising trip to Atlanta was announced Friday, but Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other Democrats in the state complained they weren’t notified of the visit.

A spokesman for Georgia Senate candidate Michael Thurmond (D) said they weren't even asked to attend. “We haven’t been invited to anything yet,” the spokesman said.