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The DCCC, also struggling to pay off an $8 million debt, is in a more difficult position, especially given that the seat is likely to disappear by 2012 as the result of redistricting.
Outside groups such as Crossroads mostly did not exist on the Democratic side until very recently. And it’s unclear whether organizations such as American Bridge and House Majority political action committee, still in their infancy, have the resources to counter the Crossroads buy.
Roll Call has learned that House Majority PAC, a newly formed Democratic ally that discloses its donors but accepts unlimited donations, will likely make a decision by Friday on whether it will play in the special election.
“John Boehner, Karl Rove, and the right are clearly in full panic mode in what should have been a slam-dunk for them in the special election in upstate New York,” House Majority PAC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said.
But even if House Majority jumps in, it’s not expected to have anywhere near the available resources as Crossroads. That could help explain the DCCC fundraising email that went out Tuesday afternoon.
“Karl Rove’s swift-boat group just bought a huge slate of attack ads totaling hundreds-of-thousands of dollars. Even Boehner himself made a last minute trip to the district yesterday,” DCCC Executive Director Robby Mook wrote, calling on supporters to help raise $150,000 by midnight. “They know losing a Republican district like this would be a shocking rebuke to their radical agenda and 2012 hopes.”
While Democrats are pushing a story line that hinges on the House Republican plan to fundamentally reshape Medicare, polling suggests that tightening of the race more likely reflects the presence of Davis, who is on pace to spend $3 million before the election and is draining significant support from Corwin. Republican strategists said tearing down Davis may be the best formula for holding the seat left vacant by the resignation of Rep. Chris Lee (R).
“This race has become artificially competitive because liberal Democrat Jack Davis is now trying to pass himself off as a conservative while the other liberal Democrat, Katie Hochul, is benefiting from his trick,” American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said. “This ad buy seeks to expose the Democrat trick for what it is.”
But high-profile Democrats will head to western New York in the coming weeks to help their nominee. Sen. Charles Schumer is set to visit this weekend, with a separate visit by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand planned for the next.
The visits come in the wake of appearances there by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was asked Tuesday whether the Republican Medicare plan was hurting their candidate.
“It’s job creation, it’s free markets, it’s innovation, and she’s taken that message to the voters and I believe will be successful,” he said.
On the other side, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer downplayed expectations but sounded somewhat optimistic.
“It’s a heavily Republican district. Our expectations there are very, very difficult,” the Maryland Democrat said. “But we have a quality candidate, and the answer to your question is I think should we win that election.”
Jessica Brady contributed to this report.