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.

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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 RohrabacherAssange lawyer: Trump offered pardon in exchange for saying Russia didn't hack DNC The most expensive congressional races of the last decade George Papadopoulos launches campaign to run for Katie Hill's congressional seat 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 ClintonClinton asked if she'd be Bloomberg's vice president: 'Oh no' Trump launches three-day campaign rally blitz Free Roger Stone 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 HorsfordBiden wins endorsement of key Nevada lawmaker Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Democrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill 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 ComstockLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Gun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats MORE (R) in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

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Many of Bloomberg’s other targets are familiar denizens of the toss-up category, including Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (R-Fla.), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamHouse votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderSharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: 'The facts are uncontested' Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (R-Kan.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), 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 (R-Minn.), 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 (R-Minn.) and John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonBottom line Bottom Line Ex-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street MORE (R-Texas).

Bloomberg is aiming to help Democratic candidates in open seats currently held by Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaDesperate in Southern California: Darrell Issa's 'back to the future' primary campaign misfires Duncan Hunter to plead guilty to campaign finance violations Why the GOP march of mad hatters poses a threat to our Democracy MORE (R-Calif.), Lynn JenkinsLynn Haag JenkinsFormer GOP Rep. Costello launches lobbying shop Kansas Republican dropping Senate bid to challenge GOP rep Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' 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 BeutlerPelosi: 'I tore up a manifesto of mistruth' DCCC unveils initial dozen candidates for 'Red to Blue' program DCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements MORE (R) is seeking her fourth term. She faces Carolyn Long, a college professor, in a district President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants 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 HandelConservative women's group rolls out new GOP endorsements for 2020 The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Georgia ready for unpredictable Senate race 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 DeSantisCourt sides with ex-felons who challenged Florida voting requirement Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan warnings Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 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 ClintonFree Roger Stone Davis: Taking another look at Bernie Sanders Juan Williams: Don't count Biden out 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.