GOP reveals midterm blueprintPolitico August 17 2010 By Alex Isenstadt
The GOP blueprint for winning control of the House is rapidly coming into focus, with the National Republican Congressional Committee readying a $22 million TV ad blitz aimed at a handful of powerful, long-serving incumbents and several dozen of the most junior members of the Democratic majority.
POLITICO has learned that the Republican campaign arm will invest in 41 districts around the nation in its first wave of television commercial reservations — a target list that ranges from powerful veterans such as House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina and Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, an Appropriations Committee cardinal, to endangered freshmen legislators including Reps. Alan Grayson of Florida, Betsy Markey of Colorado and Harry Teague of New Mexico.
The reservations, which were confirmed to POLITICO by several senior party officials familiar with the buy, provide the clearest snapshot yet of the GOP’s strategy for erasing the 39-seat Democratic advantage in the House — an approach that is contingent on picking off a large number of Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008, in addition to a handful of longtime incumbents.
While Democrats have reserved ad time in 60 races to date, the vast majority of those reservations — 54 of them — are designed to protect vulnerable incumbents. Republicans, on the other hand, are investing in an almost entirely offensive effort. Of the 41 seats covered in the NRCC buy, 40 are currently held by Democrats.
The bulk of the Democrats in the crosshairs are vulnerable first-term legislators sitting in Republican-oriented seats. Many are clustered in the South, including Reps. Bobby Bright of Alabama, Suzanne Kosmas of Florida, Travis Childers of Mississippi, Thomas Perriello of Virginia and Glenn Nye of Virginia.
Republicans also are looking toward a handful of Republican-leaning seats that have been left vacant by Democratic retirements. Among them: Arkansas’s 1st District, Indiana’s 8th District, Kansas’s 3rd District and Tennessee’s 8th District.
A number of seasoned Capitol Hill veterans are being singled out for rough treatment. Reps. Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Ciro Rodriguez of Texas, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, Allen Boyd of Florida, Edwards and Spratt — all of who face their most difficult reelection campaigns in years — are on the GOP fall hit list.
In a nod to the perilous election environment, Republicans also are probing for fresh pickup opportunities in Republican-friendly districts that, until recently, looked to be locked down by savvy Democrats. Reps. Jim Marshall of Georgia, Jerry McNerney of California and Baron Hill of Indiana — all of who hold wide cash on hand advantages over their opponents and won by comfortable margins in 2008 — will have ads run against them.
Despite the NRCC’s muscle-flexing, money remains a major obstacle in their pursuit of a majority. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee revealed two weeks ago that it was reserving more than $49 million in ad time — much of it to defend imperiled incumbents — a firewall that reflected the committee’s ability to use its financial strength to protect its majority. The DCCC has $34 million in the bank, doubling the NRCC’s $17 million.