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 Action, 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.
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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.
Correction Sept. 20, 10:59 a.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the name of a super PAC getting involved in Nevada’s 3rd District. It is America First Action.