Democrats reserve $33 million in fall advertising in fight for Senate

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) will reserve more than $33 million in advertising across six states in their first major foray into the television market ahead of November’s midterm elections, when the party faces an uphill fight to defend its majority.

The DSCC said Friday it planned to book airtime in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada, all states where Democratic incumbents are seeking new terms in November. The committee also plans to air ads against Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in Wisconsin, and in Pennsylvania, where Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring.

“This reservation will allow us to communicate on television in the most effective way, drive the contrast between our strong Democratic candidates and the GOP’s weak nominees, and help ensure Democrats protect and expand our Senate majority,” DSCC executive director Christie Roberts said in an emailed statement.

The committee’s largest investment comes in Nevada, where it will spend $8.4 million defending Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).

Cortez Masto will face the winner of a June 14 primary between former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) and businessman Sam Brown (R). Laxalt is the favorite of national Republicans; he campaigned this week with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), his former roommate in the Navy, at an event in Henderson.

The DSCC will spend $7.5 million in Arizona, where Sen. Mark Kelly (D) will face the winner of a crowded Republican primary.

Democrats have booked $7 million to defend Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who is likely to match up against businessman and former NFL running back Herschel Walker (R).

And the party booked $4 million in advertising to back Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in New Hampshire. Republicans there won’t pick their nominee until the Sept. 13 primary; retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc (R), state Senate President Chuck Morse (R) and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith (R) are among the candidates, though rumors swirl that the GOP field is likely to grow.

Democrats booked about $3 million each in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two offensive targets currently held by Republican incumbents.

In Wisconsin, Johnson will face the winner of an Aug. 9 primary between several candidates, including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski (D), Milwaukee Bucks vice president Alex Lasry (D), Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (D) and nonprofit executive Steven Olikara (D), among others. Early polls show Barnes leading the field, but Godlewski and Lasry have both invested millions of their own dollars in their campaigns.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) leads the Democratic field in the race to replace Toomey, in a primary to be decided May 17. His most substantial challenges come from Rep. Conor Lamb (D) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D). The GOP field is less certain, as wealthy contenders Dave McCormick (R), a hedge fund CEO, and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz vie for their party’s nomination.

The ad reservations, made early to lock in lower rates before prices skyrocket in the fall, come after the top Democratic and Republican super PACs dropped nearly $250 million in combined spending on fall television advertisements last week.

The Senate Majority PAC, the largest outside group supporting Democrats, has laid down advertising reservations in all of the same states as the DSCC, with the exception of New Hampshire.

The Senate Leadership Fund, the top Republican super PAC, is also silent in New Hampshire. That group has lined up ad spending in the same five states, as well as North Carolina, where Sen. Richard Burr (R) is retiring, and Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) faces a tough reelection fight from an opponent supported by former President Trump.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has not yet laid down its first advertising spending of the year.

Through the end of March, the DSCC held $43.7 million in cash reserves, according to filings made last week with the Federal Election Commission. The NRSC had $44.1 million in the bank.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Adam Laxalt Arizona Catherine Cortez Masto Christie Roberts DSCC Mark Kelly Nevada New Hampshire Pat Toomey Pennsylvania Raphael Warnock Ron DeSantis Ron Johnson

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