House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats

House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats
© Greg Nash

The House Democrats’ main campaign arm has reserved almost $1.5 million worth of television air time meant to target three Midwestern Republicans whose seats are suddenly up for grabs in a tumultuous political climate. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Tuesday laid down advertising reservations that will take aim at Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down House passes voting rights package, setting up Senate filibuster showdown GOP attempts balancing act: Condemn Jan. 6, but not Trump MORE (R-Ill.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerHouse GOP members introduce legislation targeting Russia over Ukraine Consumer bureau chief bashes FTC and pledges focus on tech giants, big firms House Democrats scramble to save housing as Biden eyes cuts MORE (R-Mo.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), three incumbents who represent districts President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE won in 2016.

The committee will also reserve $716,000 in airtime in Oklahoma City, where freshman Rep. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornHow will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? Why does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it MORE (D-Okla.) is seeking a second term after notching one of the most surprising wins of the 2018 midterm elections. 

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In total, the DCCC is reserving almost $2.2 million in airtime in the four districts. The new money is on top of almost $24 million the party has already spread across 21 media markets throughout the country. 

Democrats are likely to spend most of their money defending the freshmen who handed them the majority in 2018, in districts ranging from Charleston, S.C., and Atlanta to southern New Mexico and rural parts of Iowa and Maine. 

But the party is also preparing to spend against vulnerable Republican incumbents who represent suburban districts in parts of Texas and Phoenix’s Valley of the Sun.

Their counterparts at the National Republican Congressional Committee have plopped down $23.5 million in initial advertising buys. The GOP plans to spend heavily on behalf of ex-Rep. David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoThe fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Republican rep who voted to impeach Trump running for reelection Each state's population center, visualized MORE (R-Calif.), who is running to win back his old seat in the Inland Empire, and ex-Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), running for her seat around Binghampton and Syracuse.

Republicans will drop big bucks on Iowa, where Reps. Cindy AxneCindy AxnePlanned Parenthood endorses nearly 200 House incumbents ahead of midterms House passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on MORE (D) and Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Iowa Democrat drops bid to challenge Grassley after death of nephew Democrat Mike Franken launches challenge to Grassley in Iowa MORE (D) are running for second terms and where Rep. Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackPelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results Iowa Democrat who lost by six votes will appeal to House Iowa officials certify Republican Miller-Meeks's 6-vote victory MORE (D) is retiring. The GOP has also reserved airtime in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Houston, Richmond, Albuquerque and Charleston, S.C.

The new Democratic targets show what the DCCC says is an expanding map, one that gives them a chance to build on the majority they won in the 2018 midterms.  

Davis, who represents a downstate Illinois district that stretches from the northern and eastern suburbs of St. Louis north into Bloomington and Champaign, only narrowly survived the 2018 wave. He beat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) by just over 2,000 votes that year.

This year, Dirksen Londrigan is back; through the end of June she held an almost $400,000 cash on hand advantage over Davis.

Wagner will face state Sen. Jill Schupp (D) in a suburban St. Louis district that favored Trump by 10 points in 2016. Democrats have made noise about challenging Wagner in previous cycles, and her Democratic rival came within a surprisingly close 4 percentage points of winning in the midterm wave.

At the beginning of the month, Wagner held more than $3.1 million in cash. Schupp outraised the incumbent in the preceding three months, though she ended with about half the money on hand that Wagner held, $1.5 million.

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Bacon faces his third consecutive difficult election. He beat then-Rep. Brad AshfordJohn (Brad) Bradley AshfordNebraska district could prove pivotal for Biden in November The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - First lady casts Trump as fighter for the 'forgotten' House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats MORE (D) in 2016, when Trump carried the Omaha-based district by a little more than 2 percentage points, and he survived a tough challenge from progressive activist Kara Eastman (D) in 2018.  

Eastman, seeking a rematch, pulled in about $200,000 more than Bacon in the last quarter. Bacon ended June with $1 million in the bank, while Eastman held $404,000 in reserve. 

In Oklahoma, Horn will face the winner of a late August 25 primary between state Sen. Stephanie Bice (R) and businesswoman Terry Neese (R). Horn ousted Rep. Steve RussellSteven (Steve) Dane RussellKendra Horn concedes to Stephanie Bice in Oklahoma, flipping seat back to GOP GOP women's group launches six-figure campaign for House candidate Bice Bice wins Oklahoma GOP runoff to face Horn in November MORE (R) in an upset few saw coming, and her Oklahoma City-based district once appeared to be among the GOP’s best pickup chances.

Bice and Neese are spending heavily vying for the right to challenge Horn in November, and the eventual winner is expected to be nearly broke by the time the votes are counted. Neese has already put about $450,000 of her own money into the race. Horn has stockpiled a whopping $2.6 million in cash for the final sprint. 

The NRCC has reserved $725,000 in ads against Horn, a sign they do not want to let her get comfortable in her district.