House Republicans reserve millions in early air time

House Republicans reserve millions in early air time
© Greg Nash
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has reserved nearly $50 million in television advertising set to run in the weeks leading up to November’s midterm elections, an early hint at the party’s plan to maintain their House majority.
The reservations are preliminary, and in most cases television stations do not require a political party to actually send a check until the ads are set to run. But the NRCC’s reservations allow them to lock in a lower rate than late-comers would otherwise be afforded.
The NRCC is placing much of its early bet on Pennsylvania, where new court-drawn district lines have scrambled the playing field and put several incumbent Republicans at risk. The party reserved $7.8 million in the Philadelphia media market and $3.8 million in Pittsburgh, an NRCC spokesman told The Hill.
Reserving advertising time does not require a party to ship an actual television spot, either. That means the more than $11 million in Pennsylvania spending could be used to defend or attack candidates in any of a dozen districts covered by the Philadelphia or Pittsburgh markets.
Republicans tipped their hand a little more in the Washington media market, where the NRCC has reserved $6.4 million in airtime. That money would almost certainly be spent to defend Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockDemocrats can kiss swing voters goodbye with progressive ballot The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Dramatic battle looms after Kennedy’s retirement Election Countdown: Kennedy retirement shakes up midterms | Big primary night for progressives | Fallout from Crowley's defeat | Trump flexes his muscles in GOP primaries | The Hill's Latina Leaders spotlights 2018 candidates MORE (R-Va.), who represents a district Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin Anti-Trump protests outside White House continue into fifth night Opera singers perform outside White House during fourth day of protests MORE won by a 10-point margin in 2016. 
The early buys also hint at top Republican priorities in Texas and Colorado. The NRCC reserved $1.8 million in the San Antonio media market, which covers much of vulnerable Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans GOP lawmaker: Trump is being manipulated by Putin The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia MORE’s (R) district. And the party blocked off $1.8 million in Denver, where Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanHillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage House Republican backs bill to reinstate net neutrality rules MORE (R) is defending a suburban swing district.
Other reservations can be used to defend any of a handful of members who might become vulnerable in the months leading up to the midterms.
The GOP has also reserved $6.4 million in the Minneapolis media market. Reps. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenGOP looks to blunt Dems’ attacks on rising premiums Overnight Health Care: Kentucky gov cancels Medicaid dental, vision benefits | Collins voices skepticism court will overturn Roe v. Wade | Dems press 'middlemen' on drug costs July vote to repeal medical device tax may bolster vulnerable GOP lawmaker MORE (R) and Jason LewisJason Mark LewisGOP lawmaker pushed claims of 'racial war,' said blacks had 'entitlement mentality': CNN GOP lawmaker stands by 'sluts' comments: 'I was paid to be provocative' GOP rep in 2012: 'A woman can behave as a slut, but you can't call her a slut' MORE (R) hold seats targeted by Democrats this year. Republicans have also said they will target Democratic-held seats owned by Reps. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzDem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms Trump to hold campaign rally in Minnesota next week Retiring Democratic rep to run for lieutenant governor in Minnesota MORE (D), who is running for governor; Rick NolanRichard (Rick) Michael NolanDem lawmaker's office rehired aide after dismissing him over sexual harassment allegations: report More than 50 Dem House challengers outraise GOP incumbents Dem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms MORE (D), who is retiring; and Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonHouse and Senate farm bills set contrasting visions for SNAP program Commodity checkoff reform needed Democrats should stop agonizing over a national message for 2018 MORE (D), a rare incumbent in a district that backed Trump by a wide margin in 2016.
Republicans have blocked out $3.2 million in the Miami media market, where the party is defending Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloOvernight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax House votes to disavow carbon tax Mueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent MORE (R) and an open seat left vacant by Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenOvernight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax House votes to disavow carbon tax 'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol MORE (R). The party reserved $3.6 million in Las Vegas, where two Democratic open seats are up for grabs. And it ordered $1.2 million in the Albany media market, which covers parts of districts held by Reps. Claudia Tenney (R) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikDems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia Ex-GOP mega-donor backing Dems ahead of midterms GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki MORE (R).
The party committed $1.9 million to advertising in Tucson, Ariz., where Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyRussia raises problems for GOP candidates Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds MORE (R) is leaving her swing district to run for a U.S. Senate seat. And the NRCC blocked out $1.5 million in Sacramento and $1.2 million in the San Joaquin Valley — likely the Fresno market — to defend a handful of seats that are top Democratic priorities in November, including those held by Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamKoch group pushes DACA fix on Capitol Hill House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE House GOP leaders fail to find compromise immigration fix MORE (R) and David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoImmigration overhaul on life support in the House The Hill's 12:30 Report Cook Political Report shifts 5 races after California, NJ primaries MORE (R).
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to make its initial advertising reservations for the fall. Both the House Majority Project, the Democratic-aligned super PAC, and its Republican counterpart, the Congressional Leadership Fund, reserved millions in airtime last month for advertising that will run later this year.
Lisa Hagen and Ben Kamisar contributed.