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Bloomberg quietly spends millions in TV ads

Bloomberg quietly spends millions in TV ads
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has quietly reserved more than $30 million in television advertising for Democratic candidates in swing districts in the two weeks before next month’s midterm elections.

The advertising spending, described by several sources watching the television marketplace, comes through Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC.

Bloomberg pledged to spend at least $80 million helping Democrats reclaim control of the House — a sign, some believed, that the billionaire businessman might try to run for the party’s presidential nomination.

But Democratic strategists privately complained that they had not seen the money actually flow into campaigns, even as conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson cut his own eight-figure checks to the most prominent Republican super PAC battling for control of the House.

Now, Bloomberg’s cash is beginning to flow.

About a third of the total spending is coming against two California Republicans who find themselves facing tough Democratic challengers for the first time in years. Bloomberg’s PAC has reserved more than $4.1 million in airtime against both Reps. Steve Knight (R) and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherElection Countdown: Florida braces for volatile recount | Counties race to finish machine recount | Trump ramps up attacks | Abrams files new lawsuit in Georgia | 2020 to be new headache for Schumer | Why California counts its ballots so slowly Avenatti celebrates pro-Russia GOP lawmaker's loss: ‘Score one for America over Putin’ Dem Harley Rouda unseats Rohrabacher in swing California district MORE (R), who hold districts covered by the Los Angeles media market.

Independence USA Pac will spend nearly $3 million on behalf of pediatrician Kim Schrier (D), who faces former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R) in a fiercely contested battle for a Republican-held seat whose residents voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February What midterm exit polls tell us about 2020 MORE in 2016, just outside of Seattle.

The group also reserved $2.5 million in airtime in the Las Vegas media market, where former Reps. Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordPoll: Rosen leads Heller by 4 points in Nevada Senate race Bloomberg quietly spends millions in TV ads The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump, Obama head to swing states with Senate majority in balance MORE (D) and Cresent Hardy (R) are fighting to reclaim their old job. And it will spend $1.9 million on behalf of state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D), who appears likely to oust Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGOP lawmaker defends Mia Love from Trump attacks: 'I was disgusted when I heard it' Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration Juan Williams: Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP MORE (R) in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Many of Bloomberg’s other targets are familiar denizens of the toss-up category, including Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloGOP lawmaker defends Mia Love from Trump attacks: 'I was disgusted when I heard it' Feehery: With 2020 looming, Republicans must learn lessons from midterms Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration MORE (R-Fla.), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamRepublicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration Juan Williams: Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP On The Money: Trump says he won't give up tax returns | Likely Dem chair vows to subpoena | Stocks rally on Dem House takeover | Tough midterm for many GOP tax writers MORE (R-Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderFeehery: With 2020 looming, Republicans must learn lessons from midterms Dems projected to retake House majority Dem Sharice Davids unseats Yoder in key Kansas House race MORE (R-Kan.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenOn The Money: Trump says he won't give up tax returns | Likely Dem chair vows to subpoena | Stocks rally on Dem House takeover | Tough midterm for many GOP tax writers Trump boasts about having 'retired' Flake: 'I did the country a great service' Democrat defeats GOP lawmaker Paulsen in Minnesota MORE (R-Minn.), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governors' races | Utah's expansion to begin April 1 | GOP lawmaker blames McCain for Dems winning House Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases Defeated GOP lawmaker blames McCain for losing House — in Veterans Day op-ed MORE (R-Minn.) and John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonRepublicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration How will the 2018 midterms affect NASA space policy? America’s urban-rural divide deepens MORE (R-Texas).

Bloomberg is aiming to help Democratic candidates in open seats currently held by Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaDem Mike Levin wins Issa's open House seat in southern California Handful of races remain undecided a day after midterms Trump supporters celebrate and party amid election returns MORE (R-Calif.), Lynn JenkinsLynn Haag JenkinsMany authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress Bloomberg quietly spends millions in TV ads House battlefield expands as ad wars hit new peak MORE (R-Kan.) and David Trott (R-Mich.).

But Bloomberg’s PAC is also looking a little farther afield, apparently in hopes of expanding the battlefield into some unlikely territory.

The PAC has reserved airtime in Washington’s 3rd District, where Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerHow Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide Election Countdown: One week from midterms, House battlefield expands MORE (R) is seeking her fourth term. She faces Carolyn Long, a college professor, in a district President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat in California MORE won by 7 points in 2016. A Siena College poll conducted for The New York Times last week showed Herrera Beutler leading Long 48 percent to 41 percent.

Bloomberg will also spend nearly half a million dollars in Georgia’s 6th District, a suburban Atlanta area that was the epicenter of a hotly contested special election last year in which Democrat Jon Ossoff raised tens of millions of dollars in an ultimately unsuccessful bid against Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to Paris as attorney general controversy intensifies Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures Dem Lucy McBath unseats Handel in pivotal Georgia House seat MORE (R).

Handel now faces Lucy McBath, a businesswoman and gun control activist — an issue near to Bloomberg’s heart. The only public poll in the race, conducted last week, shows Handel leading by just 4 percentage points.

And Bloomberg even hopes to fill the conservative district once held by former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisSchumer tells Trump to stay out of Florida recount Rick Scott fundraises off Trump claim that Dems are trying to steal election Mika Brzezinski: McSally setting ‘far better example’ than ‘GOP men who will likely win’ MORE (R), who quit his seat to focus on his run for governor of Florida. The Independence USA PAC has reserved nearly $1.3 million on behalf of Nancy Soderberg, a high-ranking official on Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Amazon picks NYC, Northern Virginia for new offices | CNN suing Trump over Acosta press pass | Pelosi machine lobbies for Speakership Lewinsky: Bill Clinton should want to apologize Lewinsky participated in Clinton series so what happened to her 'never happens to another young person in our country again' MORE’s National Security Council.

Soderberg faces an uphill bid against Mike Waltz, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, in a district that went for President Trump by nearly 20 points. So far, the vast majority of the outside spending in the race has come on Waltz’s behalf, from Bloomberg’s old foe, the National Rifle Association.

The PAC’s spending is being reported to the Federal Election Commission by its treasurer, Howard Wolfson. Wolfson did not respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

Independence USA PAC has already spent more than $19 million on advertising backing Democratic candidates in the last month, reports that include some of the current buys.

The remaining buys that have yet to be reported will vault that total north of $35 million, making Bloomberg a more prominent player in the 2018 midterm elections than all but eight other outside groups, according to a running tally maintained by Political MoneyLine.