Conservative Coalition Launching $ 50 Million Pre-Election Ad Blitz
A group of conservative activists is planning a last minute ad blitz that could help put several Republican challengers over the top.
A coalition of conservative groups nominally guided by Karl Rove is embarking on one of the biggest independent ad expenditures in American history as we approach the final two weeks of the 2010 elections:
An alliance of Republican groups is launching a $50 million advertising blitz this week in a final push to help the GOP win a majority in the House, representing the biggest spending blitz ever by such groups in a congressional election campaign.
The coordinated effort, which the groups have dubbed the “House surge strategy,” tops what the official Republican House election committee expects to spend on television ads for the entire contest. It is aimed at the few dozen competitive races where Democratic candidates have significantly more money in the bank than their Republican opponents, eating into one of the Democrats’ last financial advantages.
Democratic candidates, notably incumbents, have raised more cash than many of their Republican rivals in this year’s most competitive House races, according to a Wall Street Journal tally of Federal Election Commission data. In the 40 races deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, a political handicapper, Democratic candidates had a combined $39.3 million of cash on hand as of June 30, the most-recent filing deadline. Republican candidates had $16.5 million in the bank.
“Conventional wisdom was that Democrats would have a sizable financial advantage in the 2010 elections—that will not be the case,” said Rob Collins, president of the American Action Network.
The spending campaign underscores a phenomenon that emerged with force in the 2010 elections: Outside political groups, most of which don’t have to disclose their donors, are rivaling the traditional dominance of political parties’ official campaign committees. Many of these groups, including those launching the ad blitz, are less than a year old.
“The scales have tipped from the political party to the outside political organizations,” said former Rep. Bill Paxon of New York, who once led the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s House campaign arm.
Evan Tracey, head of Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks campaign-ad spending, called the combination of ad outlays by the groups “historic” in its size, an assessment echoed by other campaign-finance experts and officials.
One of the districts where the group will be spending money is New York’s 22nd Congressional District, which I noted last week was looking like it could be an upset. In that district, the group’s efforts will essentially wipe out the cash-on-hand advantage that nine-term incumbent Maurice Hinchey had at the end of the last reporting period:
Quietly this week, in the background, nonprofit political organization American Crossroads decided to spend $300,000.
“Maurice Hinchey is in a vulnerable position,” said Jonathan Collegio, communications director for American Crossroads. “He hasn’t had a competitive race in years, his fundraising has atrophied. So there’s an opportunity to turn something that was off the radar into a very competitive race.”
The $300,000 will fund a week of television advertisements beginning Friday, Collegio said. More money could be channeled after that, depending on the dynamic of the race, he said. Collegio said he was unsure what messages would be portrayed in the ads.00,000 during a seven-day span for anti-Democratic ads on the race.
Federal election records show as of Aug. 25, Hinchey had $267,106 cash on hand, while Phillips had $34,727.
The outside spending effectively offsets the incumbents cash advantage in this district, and, combined with the news yesterday that former New York Mayor Ed Koch was crossing party lines and endorsing George Phillips, the Republican challenger to Hinchey, could be just what’s needed to give a long-term incumbent more of a run for his money than he’s ever had before.
One of the under-reported stories of the election cycle has been the fact that Democratic incumbents were maintaining somewhat of a fund raising advantage over Republicans. Groups like American Crossroads stand poised to make that advantage largely irrelevant in the crucial final weeks of the campaign.