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 DavisMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Democratic Rep. Carbajal tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Ill.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide House Suburban Caucus advances congressional pandemic response MORE (R-Mo.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), three incumbents who represent districts President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE won in 2016.

The committee will also reserve $716,000 in airtime in Oklahoma City, where freshman Rep. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide Stand-alone bill to provide relief for airlines blocked on House floor MORE (D-Okla.) is seeking a second term after notching one of the most surprising wins of the 2018 midterm elections. 


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 ValadaoEx-GOP Rep. David Valadao up 11 points over Democrat TJ Cox in California House race: poll Republicans uncomfortably playing defense House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats 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 AxneThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, first lady in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote MORE (D) and Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerCentrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote Trump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts MORE (D) are running for second terms and where Rep. Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackHouse Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats The Hill's Campaign Report: Physician candidates lean on medical experience amid coronavirus campaigning Doctors boost Democrats' hopes to keep House 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.

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 RussellGOP women's group launches six-figure campaign for House candidate Bice Bice wins Oklahoma GOP runoff to face Horn in November House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats 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.