Ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Nevada on Thursday, outside Republican groups are ramping up their spending in the 3rd District to help GOP nominee Danny Tarkanian in one of the party’s few pickup opportunities.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, made a new ad reservation in the district in the Las Vegas media market that starts Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of the media buy. CLF spokeswoman Courtney Alexander confirmed the $2.5 million reservation to Roll Call.
CLF’s buy was not timed around Trump’s visit, but another group did link the president’s upcoming rally in Las Vegas to its increased spending in the race.
America First Policies, a pro-Trump super PAC, announced in a press release Wednesday that it was reserving $1.5 million worth of airtime in the district, which is situated south of Las Vegas.
Watch: 12 House Ratings Changes, Democrats Are More Likely Than Not to Win Majority
The new spending comes after the National Republican Congressional Committee decided to focus all of its independent expenditures on the open-seat race in the neighboring 4th District, where former GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy is running against former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.
The Nevada Independent first reported the committee’s spending decision last month. The NRCC had initially reserved $3.6 million in the Las Vegas market.
A GOP source with knowledge of NRCC spending confirmed that the committee will focus on the 4th District, and said the move may have been a signal to outside groups to get involved in the 3rd.
Tarkanian is a perennial candidate in Nevada, and initially launched a challenge to Sen. Dean Heller in the Republican primary until Trump encouraged him to run for the House instead. This is Tarkanian’s second bid for the 3rd District seat — he lost by 1 point in 2016 to Democrat Jacky Rosen, who is running for Senate this year.
Awaiting Tarkanian in November is Democratic philanthropist Susie Lee, who has proved to be a strong fundraiser. She had $1.1 million on hand at the end of the second fundraising quarter on June 30, according to Federal Election Commission records. Tarkanian had $656,000.
Republicans are largely on defense this cycle, but they view the two open Nevada House seats as top pickup opportunities. The 3rd is one of 12 Democrat-held seats that Trump carried in 2016 — the district backed him by 1 point. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Tarkanian-Lee contest Tilts Democratic.
Tarkanian is expected to speak at Trump's rally in Nevada on Thursday, according to his spokesman Richard Hernandez.
"This move further confirms that CD3 is one of the most important congressional races in the country and that national Republicans are fully committed to ensuring Danny’s victory in November," Hernandez said of the outside groups' spending in the race.
Democrats are expected to fight hard to defend their Nevada seats. House Majority PAC, a super PAC tied to House Democratic leadership, has reserved $2.8 million worth of airtime in the Las Vegas market.
Indicted Republican Rep. Chris Collins wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday that he would continue to serve in Congress if re-elected.
The New York Republican had previously suspended his campaign after being indicted on charges of insider trading, but he reversed course Tuesday after GOP leaders attempted for weeks to find a way to remove Collins from the ballot. Local GOP leaders were reportedly blindsided by his decision to remain on the ballot.
“Voters can be assured that with the recent turn of events, they can count on me to actively campaign for Congress, and to serve should voters re-elect me,” Collins wrote.
“The stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress,” Collins wrote. “Their agenda is clear. They want to reverse the recently enacted tax cuts, impose Canadian style healthcare, inflict new job-killing regulations and impeach President [Donald] Trump.”
Trump carried the district by 24 points in 2016, his widest margin of victory in New York’s congressional districts.
Collins faces Democrat Nate McMurray in November, the Grand Island town supervisor. McMurray responded to the latest twist by saying it looked “like the criminal is returning to the scene of the crime.”
“Chris Collins has been charged with a crime. He can’t buy his way back into his job,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Chris Collins thinks the rules don’t apply to him. They do. Chris Collins represents everything that’s wrong with Washington.”
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Leans Republican.
Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.