Senate races

Top GOP super-PAC shifts money in Pennsylvania

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A Republican super-PAC with close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is shifting its planned advertising spending on behalf of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to focus more heavily on Pennsylvania’s urban areas.
 
{mosads}The Senate Leadership Fund will cut back on advertising scheduled to air in the Erie, Johnstown and Harrisburg media markets between Oct. 4 and Oct. 24, according to both Democratic and Republican sources watching the advertising market. The group had reserved a total of $6.1 million on advertisements backing Toomey. 
 
Instead of focusing on the heavily Republican center of the state, the group hopes to concentrate on the swing voters Toomey needs to win to keep his job.
 
The political action committee will begin running advertisements in the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre markets a week early, on Sept. 27, according to spokesman Ian Prior.
 
In 2010, Toomey won his seat by just 2 percentage points over then-Rep. Joe Sestak (D). Toomey won two of the four counties that ring Philadelphia, home to a huge concentration of the commonwealth’s swing voters.
 
This year, Toomey is locked in a tight battle with Democrat Katie McGinty, who served in the administrations of Democratic Govs. Ed Rendell and Tom Wolf. Polls have consistently shown Toomey and McGinty trading leads within the margins of error.
 
The bulk of Senate Leadership Fund’s ad spending, about half of the $6.1 million reserved so far, will occur in the Philadelphia media market, which covers those collar counties. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Senate Majority PAC — the largest super-PAC backing Democratic candidates this year — are all heavily invested in the Philadelphia market.
 
About a third of the remaining spending is aimed at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s second-largest city. Each side is investing smaller amounts in Harrisburg, Johnstown and Wilkes-Barre.
 
Pennsylvania is at the crux of the fight for majority control of the Senate. Through August, both major parties had spent nearly $27 million on television advertising alone in the state, according to calculations by the Wesleyan Media Project. So far, the two sides have reserved a total of $83 million on ads, a source said.
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