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 RohrabacherMueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end Progressives come to Omar's defense Expanding Social Security: Popular from sea to shining sea 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 ClintonDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' From dive bars to steakhouses: How Iowa caucus staffers blow off steam Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off 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 HorsfordDems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers Ten Dem lawmakers added to House Ways and Means Committee Nevada Democrat calls Trump’s focus on border wall ‘unfortunate and unnecessary’ 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 introduces bill to stop revolving door Ex-lawmakers face new scrutiny over lobbying Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign 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 CurbeloDisinvited GOP lawmaker turns up at Dem hearing Overnight Energy: 2020 rivals rip Biden over expected 'middle ground' climate plan | Dems cancel plans to invite Republican to testify on climate change | House passes .2B disaster aid bill over Trump objections Dems cancel plans to bring in Republican as climate change witness 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 YoderKansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street MORE (R-Kan.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenFight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Blue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Push for ‘Medicare for all’ worries centrist Dems MORE (R-Minn.), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisInvestigation concludes marijuana, medication impaired driver involved in GOP train crash The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities MORE (R-Minn.) and John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform The Hill's Morning Report - Dems debate if Biden's conduct with women disqualifying MORE (R-Texas).

Bloomberg is aiming to help Democratic candidates in open seats currently held by Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaFive times presidents sparked controversy using executive privilege GOP plots comeback in Orange County The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress MORE (R-Calif.), Lynn JenkinsLynn Haag JenkinsPompeo seen as top recruit for Kansas Senate seat Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch GOP seeks to ram through Trump’s B wall demand 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 TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' 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 DeSantisTrump officials not sending migrants to Florida after backlash Dem criticizes newest calendars for Trump Interior chief as 'fake' GOP gov pushes back on Trump plan to send migrants to Florida counties 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 ClintonDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' WANTED: A Republican with courage Democratic leaders' impeachment tightrope 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.