Republicans go West, play in more districts

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the head of national Republicans’ House campaign committee, predicted this summer that there would be roughly three dozen highly competitive House races.

Since then, national Republicans have spent at least $250,000 each on more than four dozen seats, including Reynolds’s own district in New York.

The field of play, which generally narrows in the final weeks of the campaign, has expanded leading up to today’s election. And Republicans are actually operating on a wider playing field, spending more on seats in Western states like California, Idaho and Colorado in the House and on difficult upset bids in blue states in the Senate, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports.


In the West, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on several seats the Democrats have not spent on.

The NRCC has spent $350,000 each in independent expenditures in Rep. John Doolittle’s and Rep. Brian Bilbray’s districts in California, $600,000 in the strongly Republican 1st District in Idaho and about $150,000 to hold the seat of retiring Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.). Its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), hasn’t spent in any of the four districts.

NRCC spending also far outpaces the DCCC’s in Rep. Richard Pombo’s California district and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s Colorado district. Republicans have expended about $1.4 million and $1.8 million on Pombo and Musgrave, respectively, to the DCCC’s $215,000 and $350,000.

The Republicans have been expanding almost exclusively into Republican-controlled districts while scaling back on their few possible pickups, said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College and chairman of the board at the Campaign Finance Institute.

“The one major trend you see over the course of the last two weeks is there are a number of races where the Republicans spent some money shoring up Republicans that one would have thought would have been safe,” Corrado said. “There were probably seven or eight districts they expanded out to where you thought that they would’ve had safe incumbents.”

The situation is similar in scandal-plagued districts in Florida and Texas, where former Reps. Mark Foley (R) and Tom DeLay (R) remain on the ballot, forcing Republicans to overcome unfavorable dynamics at the polls.


Republicans have also spent heavily on five districts in Pennsylvania, putting more than $3.5 million each into the 6th, 7th and 8th and outspending the Democrats by several hundred thousand in the late-emerging 4th and Rep. Don Sherwood’s (R) 10th.

In the Senate, national Republicans have also sought to expand the field to a degree, recently investing in possible pickups in Maryland and Michigan and, in doing so, causing some experts to scratch their heads.

To be sure, the moves have been minor ones, with $850,000 going to help Republican Mike Bouchard unseat Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial John Lewis to miss Martin Luther King Jr. Day event MORE (D-Mich.) and $1.4 million bolstering Michael Steele’s efforts to defeat Rep. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum New Parnas evidence escalates impeachment witnesses fight Pressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment MORE (D-Md.), who is favored.

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) said those races and a possible Republican takeover in New Jersey have forced the Democrats to divert spending from trying to defeat Republican incumbents. Democrats have spent more than Republicans in both Maryland and New Jersey but have yet to play in Michigan.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with the heads of the other three campaign committees, Dole said the “firewall” protecting the Republican majority is broader than just Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia, where party money has been focused on both sides in recent weeks.

To take the Senate, Democrats would have to win two of those three races and not lose in any of the three races where Republicans are playing offense.

“I have a much broader firewall,” Dole said. “You look at Rhode Island, the state of Montana — these are very, very tight races. And then we’ve been putting money into three blue states.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) late last week also added Arizona to the mix, spending $1 million on Jim Pederson’s bid to unseat Sen. Jon Kyl (R) and, in its estimation, giving the party an eighth takeover opportunity.

Among the House races that have unexpectedly emerged as priorities is Reynolds’s reelection struggle against self-funding former Republican Jack Davis, who opened up a lead shortly after the Foley scandal broke but has seen the race tighten to a near-dead heat heading into today. The Republican National Committee has plugged about $800,000 into Reynolds’s race over the last two weeks and spent more than $1 million on it total.

Reynolds maintains that there are still about three dozen races that are “hotly contested,” the definition of which he specified to mean within the margin of error in polls.


DSCC and NRSC spending

Republican-held, Democrats, Republicans  
Arizona, $1 million, $0 
Missouri, $9.8 million, $9.2 million 
Montana, $3.6 million, $600,000 
Ohio, $6.2 million, $6.2 million 
Pennsylvania, $0, $0 
Rhode Island, $2.1 million, $1.3 million 
Tennessee, $5.9 million, $4.8 million 
Virginia, $6.6 million, $3.9 million 
Democrat-held, Democrats, Republicans    
Michigan, $0, $850,000 
New Jersey, $5.3 million, $4.1 million 
Maryland, $2.8 million, $1.4 million

DCCC and NRCC spending

Republican-held, Democrats, Republicans 
CA-04 (Doolittle), $0, $350,000 
CA-11 (Pombo), $215,000, $1.4 million 
CA-50 (Bilbray), $0, $350,000 
CO-04 (Musgrave), $350,000, $1.8 million 
CO-05 (Open - Hefley), $0, $150,000 
CO-07 (Open - Beauprez), $2 million, $550,000 
FL-16 (Open - Foley), $650,000, $1.7 million 
ID-01 (Open - Otter), $0, $600,000 
KS-02 (Ryun), $650,000, $250,000 
MN-06 (Open - Kennedy), $1.1 million, $2.5 million 
NC-11 (Taylor), $120,000, $1.5 million 
NH-02 (Bass), $1.1 million, $470,000 
NY-26 (Reynolds), $450,000, $1 million 
OH-18 (Open - Ney), $2.5 million, $3.4 million 
PA-04 (Hart), $400,000, $615,000 
PA-06 (Gerlach), $3 million, $3.9 million 
PA-07 (Weldon), $1.9 million, $3.6 million 
PA-08 (Fitzpatrick), $1.7 million, $3.6 million 
PA-10 (Sherwood), $1.1 million, $1.3 million 
TX-22 (Open - DeLay), $450,000, $1.8 million 
Democrat-held, Democrats, Republicans    
GA-08 (Marshall), $210,000, $670,000 
GA-12 (Barrow), $825,000, $300,000 
IL-08 (Bean), $1.3 million, $2.4 million