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 RohrabacherThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz Former GOP Rep. Rohrabacher joins board of cannabis company 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 ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm 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 HorsfordKey endorsements: A who's who in early states T.I., Charlamagne Tha God advocate for opportunity zones on Capitol Hill Dems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers 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 ComstockProgressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers GOP lawmaker introduces bill to stop revolving door 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 CurbeloDemocratic lawmaker pushes back on Castro's call to repeal law making illegal border crossings a crime The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (R-Fla.), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamBlue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap Illinois New Members 2019 MORE (R-Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Kansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation MORE (R-Kan.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenHopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Blue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try MORE (R-Minn.), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisRepublicans must push through genuine health care reform Investigation concludes marijuana, medication impaired driver involved in GOP train crash The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-Minn.) and John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Texas).

Bloomberg is aiming to help Democratic candidates in open seats currently held by Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaThe Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back Darrell Issa eyes return to Congress Trump's 2020 campaign strategy is to be above the law MORE (R-Calif.), Lynn JenkinsLynn Haag JenkinsAnti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Pompeo seen as top recruit for Kansas Senate seat 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 BeutlerDems push to revive Congress' tech office Bill allowing Congress to hire Dreamers advances House fails to override Trump veto on border wall MORE (R) is seeking her fourth term. She faces Carolyn Long, a college professor, in a district President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 HandelFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race McBath fundraising off 'get back in the kitchen' remarks Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 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 DeSantisDeSantis wants statue of civil rights activist to replace Confederate figure on Capitol Hill Florida couple wins right to plant vegetables in front yard after years-long legal battle Former sheriff running for reelection after suspension over Parkland shooting 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 ClintonMarching toward a debt crisis The tragic cycle of genocide denial has returned: This time, Nigeria John Lithgow releases poem on the downfall of Acosta 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.