This week, the National Republican Campaign Committee committed to $22 million in television ad buys for a purely offensive push in 40 competitive U.S. House races across the country. Below is a breakdown of those races by district.
Read part 1 that covers the first 10 districts listed in the NRCC media buy HERE. Stay tuned for part 3 on Thursday and part 4 on Friday.
IN-2: Joseph Donnelly* (D) v. Jackie Walorski (R) – Just slightly right-of-center, this district sent Mike Pence (R) to Congress from 2001 to 2003 when he was redistricted to Indiana’s 6th District. Rep. Joe Donnelly was elected in 2006 and returned in 2008 with healthy margins in each contest. Rep. Donnelly is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and a pro-life Democrat; in other words, he is relatively in-step with his socially conservative district. Furthering this impression is Donnelly’s first campaign ad in which he opposes Washington and President Obama’s stance on illegal immigration. The political environment today presents any Democratic candidate with an uphill battle, no matter how synergistic Donnelly’s views or voting record are with his district. Many Indiana voters may eventually look towards his opponent, state Rep. Jackie Walorski, but Donnelly insists he is doing fine in early polling. An internal poll released by the Donnelly camp and reported in the La Porte Herald Argus, Donnelly is ahead of Walorski by 52 to 35 percent. Donnelly also leads Walorski in funds raised ($1.2 million to $565,000). As of the second quarter, Donnelly has $989,000 in the bank to Walorski’s $303,000.
IN-8: Trent Van Haaften (D) v. Larry Bucshon (R) – “The Bloody Eighth” District has a history of being no country for incumbents. Fortunately for the Democratic candidate this year, there is no incumbent to oust. Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) held this seat since 2007 until he vacated it to run for the Senate. Ellesworth defeated former Republican Rep. John Hostettler, a member of the “Class of 1994,” who had occupied the seat in the 7th District from 1995 – 2007. This year, the Blue Dog-endorsed State Rep. Trent Van Haaften faces cardiologist Larry Bucshon in November. A DCCC ad buy last month has resulted in an ad criticizing Bucschon on social security privatization. The NRCC has already released an ad criticizing Van Haaften on tax cuts. Following second quarter fundraising, Van Haaften raised another $300,000 to his $360,000 already on-hand. Bucshon, meanwhile, raised $231,000 to add to his $207,000. The amount of money that the national campaign committees are committing to this race betrays a close contest.
IN-9: Barron Hill* (D) v. Todd Young (R) – The 9th District is another slightly-to-the-right Indiana district. Rep. Barron Hill has represented the 9th in Congress since 2007, but he was first elected to Congress in 1998. In 2004, Republican Rep. Mike Sordel won a single term in the district until Hill came back to reclaim his seat. Hill is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and will face Deputy Orange County Prosecutor, Todd Young in November. Young won a tight GOP primary against political newcomer, Travis Hankins, in May. In July, Young’s campaign released an internal poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, and reported in the Indiana Evening News and Tribune, that showed him trailing Hill by 7 points (41 to 34 percent for Hill). It is surprising that Young’s camp would release these rather unflattering numbers, but it is not for want of funds. While Hill has about $850,000 more in the bank, Young outraised Hill in the second quarter with $357,000 to Hill’s $281,000.
KS-3: Stephene Moore (D) v. Kevin Yoder (R) – This district, while only garnering a Cook PVI of R+3, has only sent a single Democrat to congress since the district was created in 1875, Rep. Dennis Moore. Dennis Moore represented this district since 1999 and announced his retirement in 2009. His wife, Stephene, is attempting to keep his long-held seat in the Democratic column. Kansas state Rep. Kevin Yoder has come under some criticism for releasing a disingenuous ad online that shows him frolicking with a family that is not his, though that is clearly the impression the ad seeks to impart. Some Democrat Strategists have noted that since Yoder has a record in the House to run against and Moore is a clean slate, Yoder’s inherent GOP-wave advantage might be neutralized in this swing district that Barak Obama carried narrowly in 2008. However, that sounds like August logic and it is a weak bet that kind of conventional wisdom will hold weight in October. Yoder has proposed six debates in order to raise Moore’s position awareness and Moore has accepted.
KY-6: Ben Chandler* (D) v. Garland ‘Andy’ Barr (R) – Kentucky’s 6th District includes Lexington and the capitol Frankfort. With a distinctly Southern feel, this district has a strained history with Republicans. While it votes solidly Republican in presidential cycles and has a Cook PVI of R+9, it has only elected two Democrats since Kentucky’s brief experiment with an at-large district format in 1933 – 1935. This district’s representative since 2004 is Rep. Ben Chandler. In July, Chandler’s challenger, Lexington lawyer Andy Barr, released an internal poll that was conducted by the Tarrance Group showing him leading Chandler 45 to 38 percent. Then again, a Braun Research CN/2 poll released in July showed Chandler with a 14-point lead over Barr (46 to 32 percent). At least that poll released its cross tabs, but take internal polls for what they are worth; that is, very little.
MD-1: Frank Kartovil* (D) v. Andrew Harris (R) – Maryland is generally not friendly territory for Republicans, but the Delmarva Peninsula often bucks that trend. Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest occupied this seat form 1991 to 2009. Gilchrest lost his bid for reelection in the Republican primary in 2008 to state Sen. Andrew Harris, and Harris lost the general election to freshman Rep. Kartovil by just 2,852 votes. Kartovil has been called one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country, possibly prompting his “no” vote on healthcare reform. Harris recently made national headlines by pouncing on the recently nationalized debate over the Ground Zero mosque, drawing the ire of the state’s Democratic majority. Cook’s PVI for Maryland’s 1st District is a daunting R+13, and the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies released an April poll which shows Harris leading Kartovil by 3 points. Kartovil responded with a June internal poll, reported in the Salisbury Daily Times, showing the incumbent leading Harris with 44 to 39 percent. Maryland’s close governors race will drive up turnout in this GOP heavy district and may mean the difference for Kartovil.
MI-1: Gary McDowell (D) v. Daniel Benishek (R) – Pro-life Democrat and the face of the inconspicuous group of Congressional Democrats opposed to healthcare reform, Rep. Bart Stupak declined to run for reelection in this district, which he has represented since 1993. Michigan’s 1st leans to the right in national elections but has not sent a Republican to the U.S. House since 1931. Surgeon and political newcomer, Daniel Benishek, defeated his primary opponent, state Sen. Jason Allen, days after the August 3rd primary was over, by just 15 votes. Benishek faces state Rep. Gary McDowell in November. This is one of the few races where the Republican leads the Democrat in cash-on-hand after the second quarter; Benishek has $280,000 to McDowell’s reported $136,000.
MI-7: Mark Schauer* (D) v. Timothy Walberg (R) – Freshman Rep. Mark Schauer has represented this narrowly right-of-center, majority urban district since 2009. Schauer defeated Walberg in a four-way race in 2008 with 48.8 percent of the vote. In July, Walberg’s camp released an internal poll conducted by National Research Inc. that shows him leading Schauer 46 to 37 percent. Walberg had previously represented this district for a single term in the U.S. House from 2007 to 2009. Walberg’s last two predecessors were also Republicans, so the GOP has a leg up in Michigan’s 7th.
MS-1: Travis Childers* (D) v. Patrick Alan Nunnelee (R) – Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District is not friendly territory for Democrats in nationally significant elections, and 2010 is no exception. With a Cook PVI of R+14, Travis Childer’s 2008 victory margin of 54 to 44 percent was nothing short of shocking. Childers won this seat in a 2008 special election to replace a seat vacated by Roger Wicker who was himself appointed to the Senate to replace resigned Trent Lott in 2007. Childers won that special election and later runoff with much narrower vote percentages. Childers’ Republican opponent is state Sen. Patrick Nunnelee. Childers released two television ads this week, the most recent ad attacks Nunnelee as a “typical politician,” a good line of attack in a year that many consider a referendum on politics in general. Nevertheless, Mississippi’s 1st is high on the NRCC’s list of potential pickups. NRCC’s cash influx is much needed, Childers enjoys a 4 to 1 cash-on-hand advantage.
NH-1: Carol Shea-Porter* (D) v. Frank Guinta, Richard Ashooh, Sean Mahoney, Robert Bestani (R) – Cook’s PVI of this district is dead even. New Hampshire’s 2nd District seat has been occupied by sophomore Rep. Carol Shea-Porter since 2007. She beat state Sen. Jeb Bradley twice by close but comfortable margins. Shea-Porter is considered vulnerable due to her upside down favorable/unfavorable ratings. That was, at least, before the GOP primary began to tighten. This district’s primary is much harder to read than the general. The former Manchester mayor is widely considered the initial favorite (although primary challengers always seem to have data to contend this assertion whenever it is made), but this race has tightened significantly in recent weeks. His challengers, Richard Ashooh, Sean Mahoney and Robert Bestani, all vie for the chance to take on the vulnerable Shea-porter. Guinta lead his challengers in a July University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll that measured the general election potential of all the GOP candidates against Shea-Porter. While Guinta did significantly better than his myriad challengers, none were beating her.
NV-3: Dina Titus* (D) v. Joe Heck (R) – In a district that covers the Las Vegas suburbs, Titus is the second representative in a district that has only existed since 2003. This is one of the few Democratic leaning districts in which the NRCC is buying time (Cook PVI D+2). Titus was preceded by former Republican Rep. John Porter, whom she defeated 47 to 42 percent. Titus has launched her first ad, attacking Washington, albeit obtusely, by professing her staunch opposition to mortgage and bank bailouts. The ad features a series of (supposed) Nevada 3 residents thanking Titus for helping them save their homes. The Republican National Committee has called Titus’ ad disingenuous since she was not even in the Congress at the time TARP bailouts were passed. Titus’ opponent, Dr. Joe Heck, remains a single point behind Titus in an August Mason-Dixon poll (43 to 42 percent). Some have attributed Heck’s early support to his lack of name recognition and subsequently low disapproval numbers. Most recent disclosures have Titus with $1.2 million in campaign cash on hand compared with Heck’s $362,000. The NRCC intends to take some pressure off Heck’s strained campaign coffers.
Coming up in part 3: New Mexico’s 2nd District, New York’s 20th District, New York’s 24th District, North Dakota’s At-Large District, Ohio’s 1st District, Ohio’s 15th District, Ohio’s 16th District, Pennsylvania’s 3rd District, Pennsylvania’s 7th District, Pennsylvania’s 11th District.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at email@example.com