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Connelly: Battle for Congress -- Republicans plan to spend $56 million

Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Local News | Link to original source
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Connelly: Battle for Congress -- Republicans plan to spend $56 million

Republicans are prepared to spend big as they fight to keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and have already reserved airtime on Seattle stations for use in the closing month of the fall campaign..

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is reserving $56 million for ads including $10 million in digital advertising, across the country.  The buy first revealed Tuesday by Axios under the headline:  "NRCC gears up for midterm blitz."

The NRCC has listed 13 media markets including four in the West.  Washington is not presently on the list, but is likely to be part of the blitz.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a vehicle of House Speaker Paul Ryan, has already reserved $2.1 million in the Seattle market, while a "SuperPAC" associated with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has reserved $1.67 million.

By reserving airtime now, groups such as the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund can lock in cheaper air time. They can adjust or cancel airtime, depending how the contest for House control shapes up closer to election day.

The 8th Congressional district will likely stay on the list until election day. Held by retiring GOP Rep. Dave Reichert, it is a major battlefield in the political war to control Congress. The 8th is one of 23 Republican-held House seats that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Three-time statewide candidate Dino Rossi has cleared the Republican field, and had raised just over $2 million as of March 31st. He has kept up the pace since, including a $500-a-person fundraiser at Sahalee Country Club last week that drew student gun safety protesters.

Three viable Democratic candidates -- attorney Jason Rittereiser, pediatrician Dr. Kim Schrier, and former Centers for Disease Control executive Dr. Shannon Hader -- are competing in the August primary.

Rossi has raised more money than the three Democrats combined.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is likely to spend not only in Seattle but elsewhere in the state.  .

The candidates are also piling up war chests. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House Republican leadership,  topped $1 million raised in the first quarter of 2018 -- with heavy support from corporate PACs -- and has taken in more than $2.7 million.

Democratic challenger Lisa Brown, a former chancellor of Washington State University -- Spokane, has raised more than $1.3 million and built a base of more than 6,000 donors.

In Southwest Washington's 3rd District, Democrats are uniting behind WSU political scientist Carolyn Long in her challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. Long was endorsed Tuesday by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and ex-Governor Christine Gregoire.

The Cook Political Report has moved the 3rd District from "Solid Republican" to "Likely Republican."

The Democrats have never won in the 8th District, created in 1980 out of King and Pierce County suburban and exurban areas. The district now extends across the Cascades to take in Kittitas and Chelan Counties. Last month, Rossi brought ex-Seahawks wide receiver (and Oklahoma congressman) Steve Largent to two kickoffs, one on each side of the Cascades.

Seattle TV stations are going to make a lot of money off the 8th District race. Spokane television will be saturated with political spots like no time since the 1994 showdown in which Spokane attorney George Nethercutt upset House Speaker Tom Foley.

Voters are not likely to be inspired.

The candidates' TV spots are often upbeat, introducing themselves to the district and talking of what they would do if elected.

By contrast, party and PAC-sponsored ads take the low road, dispensing nasty and negative messages. In last fall's 45th District State Senate race, Republicans used the statue of Lenin in Fremont as part of an ad against Redmond Democrat Manka Dhingra.

The Republican Governors Association shelled out $11.9 million in 2012, but did little to help GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob McKenna. The ads were boilerplate, featured actors spouting scripted national themes, saying nothing about what McKenna would do as Governor.

The NRCC has reserved airtime in 13 media markets.

It is in for $7.8 million in Philadelphia, $6.4 million in Washington, D.C. (to reach Virginia House districts), $6.4 million in Minneapolis and $5.7 million in Detroit.

In Washington races, it would need Portland TV time to reach the 3rd Congressional district.  Seattle television reaches not only the 8th District, but a half-dozen House districts held by Democrats.