GOP getting boost for House races

GOP getting boost for House races
By Alex Isenstadt
October 9, 2012

Republicans are poised to flex their financial muscle in the final month leading up to the election, dumping an avalanche of cash into congressional races in an attempt to protect the House GOP majority.

POLITICO has learned that two leading Republican groups, American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund, are teaming up to spend nearly $13.5 million in House battles across the country.

The investment has the potential to drastically alter a financial playing field that has been mostly even between the two parties. Between the beginning of July and the end of September, Republican groups held a $36 million to $31 million spending advantage over their Democratic counterparts — a narrow GOP edge that left some Republican officials, who expected to have the upper hand in the money game, surprised and anxious.

The cash infusion from American Action Network and Congressional Leadership Fund, both of which have been focused on congressional campaigns and are chaired by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, is meant to change that. The two groups are launching high-dollar TV advertising campaigns in more than a dozen races — buttressing the efforts of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is tasked with preserving the 25-seat majority.

“I think [House Speaker] John Boehner and [NRCC Chairman] Pete Sessions are having a better week than [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman] Steve Israel, and it’s only Monday,” said Brian Walsh, president of the American Action Network.

Democrats have proven to be resilient in the congressional cash sweepstakes, with labor groups and other party allies launching an aggressive effort to seize the speaker’s gavel from Boehner.

House Majority PAC, the leading Democratic super PAC, has spent over $10 million while two major labor organizations, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union, have combined to spend more than $4 million.

Between the beginning of July and the end of September, outside Democratic groups had outspent their Republican rivals $18 million to $11 million. The NRCC, however, has made up the disparity, outspending the DCCC $24 million to $13 million.

To this point, American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund have spent more than $2.8 million combined.

With much of the financial firepower focused on the presidential and Senate levels, strategists from both parties say they expect money to play an outsize role in the House battle, where a sudden infusion of cash can sway the outcome of a race.

Much of the investment from American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund will be devoted to shoring up vulnerable incumbents, including Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack, Florida. Rep. Daniel Webster and California Rep. Jeff Denham.

But the groups are also seeking out some offensive opportunities. Congressional Leadership Fund, for instance, will launch TV ads against New York Rep. Kathy Hochul and California Rep. Lois Capps, both vulnerable Democratic members.

In addition to spending on TV ads, the groups will also combine to invest more than $1.2 million on online commercials.

Dan Conston, a spokesman for the Congressional Leadership Fund, said, “This is an investment in our team, our speaker and our entire House Republican majority to ensure that the ‘people’s house’ is a Republican House this November.”