The Democratic strategy to preserve their House majority was unveiled by The NY Times, which reported the party made a $28 million investment in television advertising for the final weeks of the fall campaign, “a plan that is designed to build a firewall to protect freshmen and longtime incumbents.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bought time in 40 districts across, including those of Representatives John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, chairman of the Budget Committee, and Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. The committee also reserved time to help Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, who is seeking his 11th term in November and is among the party’s most vulnerable members, said the story.
The decisions, which were confirmed by party strategists and local television stations, help define more precisely the battlefield on which the two parties will vie for control of Congress over the next four months as Republicans work to reclaim the majority. Democrats are playing defense in districts in every corner of the country, hoping to use their fund-raising advantages to preserve control. The $28 million in advertising commitments represents the bulk of the $34 million in cash that the Democratic campaign committee has on hand.
Many of the 40 districts include Democrats that have long been viewed as ripe for a Republican takeover, but others provide the first sign that the ranks of vulnerable Democrats may be deeper than previously acknowledged. The collection of districts is hardly set in stone, with Democrats able to add or subtract as the campaign goes along.
The Democratic House campaign committee has a $17 million advantage over its Republican counterpart, so Democrats can afford to invest in far more districts. And the list that emerged on Thursday was being carefully studied by Republicans for any head-fakes – districts where Democrats were trying to entice Republicans into spending their limited resources.
The 40 districts that Democrats selected, based on polling, candidate fund-raising and the strength of Republican opposition, include five seats in Ohio, four in Pennsylvania, three in Virginia, three in Arizona, two in New York, two in Texas, two in Florida, two in Illinois and two in Indiana.
Several of the decisions signal new signs of worry from Democratic Party leaders, including Representatives Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin of South Dakota, Betty Sutton of Ohio, Allen Boyd of Florida, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Jerry McNerney of California.
The television time was reserved by the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic committee. Their Republican counterpart intends to make its first television advertising decisions in August.