The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its first fall advertising reservations on Tuesday, plunking down $30 million in 26 districts the committee expects will be at the heart of the battle to pick up House seats this November.

The NRCC is expecting to be on offense — 17 of the districts it reserved in are Democrat-held — but cash considerations may limit their ability to attack. The committee has trailed Democrats in fundraising for much of the past year; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised $107 million through May, while the NRCC has brought in $86 million. Consequently, the NRCC’s buy is much smaller than the $44 million the DCCC dropped late last month into 36 House districts.

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That uneven spending is allowing Democrats to target some uphill battles, like for Rep. Tim GriffinTim GriffinFlynn discloses lobbying that may have helped Turkey Tea Party class reassesses record Huckabee's daughter to run '16 campaign MORE’s (R-Ark.) seat, while Republicans will have to reserve later — and spend more — to take a shot at at someone like Julia BrownleyJulia BrownleyLawmakers press Mattis on Marines nude photo scandal A guide to the committees: House House caucus to focus on business in Latin America MORE (D-Calif.), and are leaving incumbents like Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) to fend for themselves at this point, as well as the eventual nominee for retiring Rep. Tom Latham’s (R-Iowa) competitive seat.

Both sides can increase or change their reservations later, and are reserving early to lock in lower rates. Republicans could have to rely more on outside group spending for these House contests, or be forced to make some hard choices this fall as they look to pick up seats.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

NC-SEN (HAGAN): A new automated poll conducted by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling indicates Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.) leading state Speaker Thom Tillis (R) by 5 points, her largest lead since September. PPP suggests Hagan’s increased lead could be a result of the General Assembly being in session, throwing legislature leader Tillis into the news cycle. The General Assembly suffers a 54 percent disapproval rating, while 45 percent of voters rank Tillis unfavorably.

Democrats also looked to make hay out of 2012 comments from Tillis that the “traditional” U.S. population isn’t growing as fast as immigrant communities. Tillis was arguing that the GOP needed to do better to reach out to minorities.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): A group backing Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: Trump threatens to leave ObamaCare in place if GOP bill fails Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline Chao: Trump tapped into 'a strain of anxiety,' 'fear' MORE’s (R-Ky.) reelection slammed his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), for being “two-faced” on her stance on the state’s coal industry. The ad came after Grimes failed to mention coal at a recent fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.), despite her spokeswoman’s promises that Grimes planned to use the event to hit back against new rules limiting carbon emissions.

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): A trio of new campaign ads hits the Mississippi airwaves in anticipation of next Tuesday’s runoff between Sen. Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill Shutdown politics return to the Senate MORE (R-Miss.) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Two conservative groups are airing ads in support of McDaniel: one featuring former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) praising McDaniel and another interspersing younger Mississippians calling McDaniel “a fresh start.” Cochran’s team hits back with its own ad, attacking McDaniel for racially charged comments made while he was a conservative talk-radio host.     

McDaniel is also receiving support from another source: Carl Ford, former lawyer for White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard Sam Bowers. McDaniel is accepting $800 in donations from Ford, who is an active member of a neo-Confederate organization. Ford has donated to Republican campaigns in the past, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulPaul: Pence should oversee Senate ObamaCare repeal votes Healthcare fight pits Trump against Club for Growth GOP rep: Trump could be 'one-term president' if healthcare bill passes MORE (R-Ky.), and was even a supporter of Cochran in his first campaign.

Former “Love Connection” and “Dating Game” host Chuck Woolery will be hopping aboard a Tea Party Express bus tour to campaign for McDaniel. The original host of “Wheel of Fortune” will be joined by radio host Lars Larson, according to a Tuesday news release from the political action committee.

A Democratic political operative has reportedly launched a get-out-the-vote effort focused on African-Americans for Cochran. James "Scooby Doo" Warren told the Clarion-Ledger that he is working with the pro-Cochran Mississippi Conservatives PAC and Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr. on the effort to boost Cochran in the runoff. 

OK-SEN (OPEN): Former Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon debuted two ads this week: a positive spot touting plans for office and another featuring former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) decrying a negative ad run by a group supporting Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.). The two ads will run through the June 24 primary. 

MI-SEN (OPEN): GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land released a new ad attacking D.C.'s childish behavior, claiming officials spend too much time fighting and spending money. “As a mom, I know how to break up a fight,” the former Michigan secretary of State says in the ad, featuring fighting children in suits. “That’s a lesson I’ll teach to Washington, D.C., and Congress.”

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): The newest automated Minnesota poll from Democratic Public Policy Polling shows little change in the state Senate race. Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenFriends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Lawmakers share photos of their dogs in honor of National Puppy Day Franken challenges witness endorsement of Gorsuch MORE (D-Minn.) leads businessman Mike McFadden (R) by 49 percent to 38 percent, similar to what they found in October.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Crossroads GPS launched an ad Tuesday slamming Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (D-Alaska) for casting the “deciding vote” that helped pass the Affordable Care Act. In the ad, Bill Vivlamore, president of a small business in Fairbanks, claims ObamaCare costs small businesses massive additional healthcare costs, charging that Begich “doesn’t understand what voting 97 percent of the time with Obama is doing to businesses in Alaska.”

Dan Sullivan (R), Begich’s most likely opponent, was endorsed by the conservative veterans group Support and Defend PAC.

OR-SEN (MERKLEY): Republican candidate Monica Wehby is trying to gain some ground with gay-rights groups, who overwhelmingly support Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Dem senator accuses Trump of 'dangerous tilt towards authoritarianism' Overnight Regulation: Dems punch back in fight over CEO pay rule MORE (D-Ore.) for reelection. Merkley has long been a champion of gay rights, but Wehby is making it clear that she is not unfriendly to the cause. Wehby endorsed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Monday, according to her campaign manager, and attended the Portland Pride Festival on Friday.  

TN-SEN (ALEXANDER): Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule Trump's Labor pick signals support for overtime pay hike Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE’s (R-Tenn.) primary challenger is convinced he’s the next Dave Brat, the man who orchestrated a stunning upset of House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorPaul replaces Cruz as GOP agitator GOP shifting on immigration Breitbart’s influence grows inside White House MORE in his primary last week.

And if state Rep. Joe Carr (R) does pull off a similarly unexpected win over the two-term senator, he said he’ll have Brat to thank for the momentum that gets him there.

“What we have always assumed is that there was going to be a combustible moment in the campaign. We didn’t know when it was going to occur, or how it was going to occur,” he told The Hill last Thursday, during a two-day visit to Washington to meet with national conservative groups and lawmakers he said were newly warming to his bid. 

ME-SEN (COLLINS): Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsFive takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE’s (R-Maine) campaign put out its first ad, touting her work to protect the Bath Iron Works and endorsements from the unions there.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE 

The National Republican Congressional Committee reserved $30 million worth of television time across the 26 districts it considers the most competitive.

The House Majority PAC also made some more early ad reservations, bringing its total to $12.5 million for the fall.


VA-7 (OPEN): Republican candidate Dave Brat made his first public appearance Tuesday since he toppled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a shocking primary race. Brat read a less than two-minute statement to reporters in a small conference room before a closed-door meeting, calling for “real solutions” to problems, saying he had “a message of economic prosperity that we’re going to share with central Virginians across the district over the coming weeks.”

MI-3 (AMASH): Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashGOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan House votes to fast-track ObamaCare repeal Trump delivers ultimatum to GOP on ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Mich.) leads his primary challenger, businessman Brian Ellis (R), 55 percent to 35 percent in a new poll from EPIC-MRA. 

 

2016 WATCH

CLINTON: Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDem rep: 'We must pause the entire Trump agenda' until Russia investigation complete New England Patriots to visit White House on April 19 More than ever, Justice must demand a special prosecutor for Trump-Russia probe MORE claimed she is “well aware” of women’s expectation for her to run in 2016 and indicated that despite many other qualified Democratic women, she may be the only one with the proper experience. Clinton did not name any specific female Democratic senators or governors in her interview with Canadian network CBC but did comment that none of them have “gone through the fire” like she has.  

Clinton’s memoir Hard Choices has had a successful first sales week, moving roughly 100,000 copies.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Intense," "passionate" and "service-minded" — How Clinton described herself at a CNN town hall