Dem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms

Dem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms
© Greg Nash

Election Day is less than five months away, and candidates, committees and outside groups are pouring money into races around the country in the hopes of clinching the House majority. 

The biggest players — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the pro-Democrat House Majority PAC (HMP) and the pro-Republican Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) — have reserved a combined $100 million in advertising time for the fall. 

While there is even more spending to come as the battlefield and advertising rates ebb and flow, here are the top five states with the most ad reservations by these major groups. 

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Minnesota

The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is one of the most competitive states in the 2018 election cycle. That’s why the four groups have reserved a combined $22.7 million, more than in any other state. 

Most of that spending focuses on the Minneapolis media market, which encompasses much of the state and its most competitive congressional districts. 

Republicans are setting their sights on two open seats vacated by Democratic Reps. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzMinnesota lawmakers blast pharmaceutical industry lawsuit over insulin affordability law Judge in George Floyd case tells attorneys, officials, family to limit public statements Internal watchdog investigating if Air Force improperly used plane to surveil protests: report MORE and Rick NolanRichard (Rick) Michael NolanHold off on anti-mining hysteria until the facts are in Minnesota New Members 2019 Republicans pick up seat in Minnesota’s ‘Iron range’ MORE. President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE won both of those more rural districts handily in 2016, but the Democratic incumbents had kept their seats blue. But now their retirements are robbing the Democrats of their incumbency advantage, and the GOP has already deployed Trump himself to rally in the 8th District to boost GOP turnout there. 

Meanwhile, Democrats are eyeing seats held by GOP Reps. Jason LewisJason Mark LewisTwo swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports GOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE and Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenPass USMCA Coalition drops stance on passing USMCA Two swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal MORE  — Trump barely won Lewis’s seat in 2016 and lost Paulsen’s by 10 points. Both districts are more urban or suburban, so Democrats are hoping they can continue to overperform with moderates in areas like those. 

Pennsylvania

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The Keystone State is home to a handful of marquee races that could help decide the House majority, something reflected in the more than $20 million in spending that has been booked there.

The state became instantly more competitive earlier this year when the state Supreme Court redrew Pennsylvania’s congressional boundaries. Thanks in part to those changes, as well as a handful of retirements, Democrats have at least five strong opportunities to flip seats. 

Most of the spending is in the Philadelphia media market, which includes four competitive districts. Three are open seats vacated by retiring Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloBottom line Former GOP Rep. Costello launches lobbying shop Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts MORE (R) and former GOP Reps. Patrick Meehan and Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: WHO vs. Trump; Bernie's out The biggest political upsets of the decade Ex-GOP lawmaker: Former colleagues privately say they're 'disgusted and exhausted' by Trump MORE. The other is home to Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (R), one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle. 

Fitzpatrick’s race will likely be the most competitive of the bunch. He’s taking on Democratic philanthropist Scott Wallace in a district that Trump narrowly lost in 2016. 

Democratic lawyer Mary Gay Scanlon and Air Force veteran Chrissy Houlahan (D) are the heavy favorites to replace Meehan and Costello, respectively. Another Democratic lawyer, Susan Wild, will run against former Olympian Marty Nothstein to replace Dent in another Democratic-leaning district. 

The NRCC has reserved $7.8 million of ad time in Philadelphia, compared to the DCCC’s $1.7 million and HMP’s $3 million. CLF has earmarked $4 million specifically toward protecting Fitzpatrick on the air. 

The NRCC is also planning to drop at least $3.8 million in Pittsburgh, home to GOP Rep. Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusLobbying world Conor Lamb gets 2020 challenger touted by Trump The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE. Redistricting puts Rothfus in the toughest race of his career, against fellow Rep. Conor Lamb (D). 

California

California’s prominence on the midterm map won’t surprise many, and the four groups have already reserved more than $19 million in ads there. 

The big money has centered on Los Angeles, the media market that includes districts held by GOP Reps. Steve Knight, Mimi Walters and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherDemocrat Harley Rouda advances in California House primary Lawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report Rohrabacher tells Yahoo he discussed pardon with Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email MORE. It also spans all of the district being vacated by Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceGil Cisneros to face Young Kim in rematch of 2018 House race in California The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia MORE (R) and part of the district currently held by retiring Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaGOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order Conservative group files challenge to California vote-by-mail order New poll shows tight race in key California House race MORE (R). All of those races are considered among the toughest in the country for the GOP. 

Knight is running against Katie Hill (D), who runs a Los Angeles nonprofit to help the homeless; Walters will take on professor Katie Porter (D), a protege of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low MORE (D-Mass.); Young Kim (R) faces philanthropist Gil Cisneros (D) for Royce’s seat; Rohrabacher will take on real estate developer Harley Rouda (D); and local politician Diane Harkey (R) is running against environmental lawyer Mike Levin (D) for Issa’s seat.

HMP has booked $5.2 million in ads in Los Angeles, while CLF has reserved at least $2 million for each of the seats held by Walters, Knight and Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Bottom line Lobbying world MORE (R). CLF is also spending $2 million on advertising to help Kim.

Levin will receive a boost by HMP’s $1.24 million in ad reservations for the San Diego market.

Further north, in the Sacramento area, both the NRCC and HMP have each booked about $1.5 million in ad reservations. The toughest race in that area will be Democratic Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE’s reelection fight against former Marine Andrew Grant (R), but the race still tilts in Bera’s favor. 
And the NRCC is also spending $1.2 million in the San Joaquin Valley’s television market, where Rep. Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaBlack Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel Let's support and ensure the safety of workers risking so much for us Five factors to watch in the meat supply chain crisis MORE (D) will face off against former congressional aide Elizabeth Heng (R). Costa’s district is reliably blue, but he’s won by narrow margins in past midterm years. 

Texas

Texas is home to three vulnerable Republican incumbents in districts Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarville repeats prediction that Trump will drop out of race What's behind Trump's slump? Americans are exhausted, for one thing Trump campaign reserves air time in New Mexico MORE won in 2016. 

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (R) knows nothing but competitive races — his massive border district is always up for grabs. He’s running against Gina Ortiz Jones (D), an Iraq War veteran.

Hurd will be the beneficiary of a portion of the $1.8 million in spending the NRCC booked for San Antonio, as well as the $2.1 million CLF has set aside for his race so far. 

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In Houston, longtime Rep. John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonBottom line Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Bottom line MORE (R) is gearing up for the fight of his political life against lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D). Culberson had once been seen as an exemplar of a congressman unprepared for the 2018 environment, but he’s since kicked his campaign into gear. 

Now, CLF has reserved $2.45 million in ads to boost his campaign, while HMP has booked $2 million to knock him down. 

Dallas-area Republican Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsFormer FBI Director William Sessions dies at age 90 Texas kicks off critical battle for House control The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine MORE rounds out the trifecta, but while he’s long been seen as less vulnerable than Hurd or Culberson, that could change. 

Democrats have a strong challenger in former professional football player and Obama official Colin Allred. And Dallas has also seen a major demographic change that has made the area more diverse. Those dynamics were enough for the Cook Political Report to move Sessions’s race to a “toss-up” earlier this month. 

Florida

Florida is also home to a handful of battleground races where Democrats will likely be on the offensive. 

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Democrats appear more likely to flip the Miami-area seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenTechNet hires Hispanic communications director Bottom line Women are refusing to take the backseat in politics, especially Latinas MORE. But they’re buckling up for a serious race in Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Memo: GOP cringes at new Trump race controversy Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Republicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea MORE’s district, where the Republican congressman hopes to have forged enough of an independent path to avoid being dragged down by Trump in the heavily Hispanic district. 

The NRCC has $3.2 million of air time booked in the Miami market, while CLF has $2.5 million devoted specifically to him. But Democrats are planning to get in on the fun too, with $2 million from the DCCC and $1.1 million from HMP. 

The state also has two additional races where both sides are looking to flip a seat, but are waiting for primaries to decide their candidates. 

Republicans are looking for revenge in the Orlando area after Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyModerate House Democrats introduce bill aimed at stopping China from exploiting coronavirus pandemic Encouraging a safe business environment can help drive America's recovery The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow MORE (D) won a tough race in 2016. HMP has $1.9 million reserved in that media market, and much will likely go to helping Murphy. 

Democrats, meanwhile, are targeting Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers House Republicans push back against proxy voting GOP lawmakers consider returning to DC despite coronavirus shutdown MORE (R) in the West Palm Beach market after his strong campaign in 2016. But so far, HMP is the only group to play in that market, with a modest $400,000 in reservations.