Dems preparing October offense

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is reserving millions of dollars in TV airtime during the month before the election in four competitive states, according to a Republican strategist who tracks Democratic ad buys. 

They'll go on the offense in the Missouri and Kentucky Senate races, while propping up their candidates in Pennsylvania and Colorado, throughout October.

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The open-seat races in Kentucky and Missouri are considered to be the Democrats' best pick-up opportunities this cycle.

In Missouri, Rep. Roy Blunt, the GOP Senate nominee, was a strong proponent of the financial bailout bill, which his Democratic opponent has spotlighted in TV ads. And with Rand Paul as the GOP nominee in Kentucky, Democrats believe Jack Conway has a chance of capturing retiring Sen. Jim Bunning's (R) seat. Conway has worked to characterize Paul as "too extreme" and will likely continue to do so.

Two Republican sources estimate the DSCC will drop significantly more than $4 million on ads in those two races. The committee announced Friday it has more than $22 million banked for the final 73 days of the campaign.

A spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee said the ad buy was a sign Democrats are "justifiably worried about their chances in November."

Meanwhile, the DSCC is also preparing to defend two Democratic-held seats.

The committee has already spent money in Pennsylvania — backing Sen. Arlen Specter during the Democratic primary and recently releasing a TV ad that hit Pat Toomey, the Republican nominee. It's now preparing to support the Democratic primary winner, Rep. Joe Sestak. Polls have shown Toomey, a former congressman, leading Sestak by single digits.

In Colorado, Sen. Michael Bennet survived a primary challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff and proved he's capable of waging a vigorous campaign. Many expect he'll have a tougher race against Republican Ken Buck, who won his party's nomination with a solid grassroots organization. Polls show this race in a statistical tie.

The committee is effectively showing its hand to the GOP by placing these early buys. But the advantage is they'll get a cheaper rate and, if necessary, can cancel the reservation before the ad goes up. The move could also have a psychological effect on the Democrats' opponents, acting as a shot across the bow of their Republican rivals.

—This post was updated at 1:09 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.