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Republican Cavalry Starts Spending on House Races (Finally)

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For months, Republicans feared outside groups would skip over House races this cycle, saving their cash for the battle over Senate control.  

But the conservative cavalry has finally arrived.  

Republican groups — which have mostly sat on the sidelines in House contests this cycle until recently — have reserved nearly $12 million on the television airwaves in competitive races through Election Day, according to two sources tracking ad buys in House contests across the country. The reservations, placed over the last two weeks, are a mix of GOP pickup opportunities and defensive ground.  

The reservations include:  

  • More than $4 million from American Action Network, the issue advocacy group headed up by former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. AAN reserved time in seven GOP pickup opportunities: Arizona's 1st and 2nd Districts, California's 7th District, Florida's 26th District, New York's 1st District, Minnesota's 8th District and Texas' 23rd District.
  • Nearly $2.6 million from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to House GOP leadership and the sister organization of AAN, in Arizona's 2nd District, California's 52nd District, Texas' 23rd District and Virginia's 10th District.
  • An additional $1.2 million from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in New York's 18th, 19th and 21st Districts; Pennsylvania's 6th District; and Virginia's 10th District. It will bring the chamber's total spending to $3.5 million on House races through Election Day.
  • $700,000 from Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC with ties to Koch Industries. A majority of those funds are slated to defend GOP Rep. Steve Southerland II in Florida's 2nd District, plus go on offense in Florida's 26th District and West Virginia's 3rd District.
  • More than $1.3 million from YG Network, a conservative issue advocacy group, in Arizona's 1st and 2nd Districts, and West Virginia's 3rd District.
  • Nearly $1.6 million from American Crossroads, the super PAC run by former White House aide Karl Rove, in Arkansas' 2nd District — a GOP-held seat located in and around Little Rock.

It's money House Republicans feared might not come this cycle, with many donors focused on Senate races instead. Without the influx of cash, Republicans feared Democrats would spend more on the midterms, potentially forcing the GOP to leave races on the map in its quest to grow the majority.  

Those fears were stoked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's decimation of the National Republican Congressional Committee in fundraising.  

The DCCC had $9 million more in cash on hand than the NRCC as of Aug. 20, a significant advantage in a year with a small playing field. That advantage grows with the inclusion of House Majority PAC — a super PAC solely focused on helping House Democrats — that plans to spend $20 million by Election Day.  

But while national Republicans said they are pleased outside groups have started spending on House races, some aides telegraphed it's not enough to keep pace with Democrats.  

A number of competitive races are noticeably absent from the current round of ad spending, for example the race in Iowa's 3rd District, an open-seat contest to replace retiring GOP Rep. Tom Latham, and New Hampshire's 1st District, currently held by Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.  

"We’re grateful for any help coming our way, but we desperately need more funds to match what President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are spending," said one House GOP aide.  

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