Congressional diary: Is the NRCC abandonning Woody Jenkins?

Call this round for the Democrats? Two days ago, the DCCC upped the stakes in the special elections of LA-06 and MS-01 by buying more than $100,000 of ads in both districts; this brought the Democrats' total in Louisiana to $270,000 more than the double of what Republicans are spending in their effort to keep a seat that voted overwhelmingly for Bush. This forced the cash-starved nearly-broke RNCC to consider how much more they could conceivably spend without emptying their coffers.

Yesterday night, the NRCC filed papers declaring it had met the DCCC's investment -- but only in Mississippi, with a significant ad buy of $150,000 that brings the Republican total in the district to more than $232,000. This is twice a much as the Democrats have invested in the district for now, but there is no reason Democrats will stop, particularly if they can force Republicans to go for broke. Consider that the spending spree is starting earlier than usual. In IL-14, the first salvos were fired on March 1st, two weeks before the special election. The runoff in MS-01 will be held on May 13th. It is difficult to imagine the NRCC meeting the Democrats' spending for the next 4 weeks.

For now, however, the GOP has not met the Democrats' increased spending in LA-06. If they do not do so in the coming days, it could be a sign that the NRCC has decided to abandon Woody Jenkins to his fate, probably sealing a second Democratic pick-up of a very red district within 2 months.

Despite the fact that LA-06 and MS-01 are both very conservative districts, the GOP have been in trouble in the former for a while now, and Woody Jenkins' is widely considered a flawed candidate who cannot win this election; in fact, Republicans were telling the press ten days ago that they might not do anything at all to help Jenkins. The GOP is not as desperate in MS-01, and the one poll that has been released shows a toss-up -- it is thus logical that the NRCC is looking to defend that district.

To make matters worse for the GOP, it looks like their fundraising troubles are not just confined to the congressional committees. Bloomberg has come out with a fundraising analysis of the first quarter numbers to conclude that Democrats have outraised Republicans in "28 of the tightest 38 districts." Four Republican incumbents were outraised by their challenger (Walberg in MI-07, Kuhl in NY-29, Schmidt in OH-02 and Reichert in WA-08), and Democrats also outraised the GOP in 9 Republican-held open seats. With numbers like this, the Republican candidates will truly need the NRCC's help in the fall, especially as the DCCC will add to the unbalance by pouncing the most vulnerable incumbents with multi-million ad campaigns. But the GOP struggle's to meet the Democrats' spending in LA-06 is a reminder of the increasing difficulty the NRCC will find itself in.

Meanwhile, jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff is continuing to rock the Colorado Senate race. A few days after the Denver Post ran a very damaging article against GOP candidate Bob Schaffer's connecting to Abramoff, the Denver Post is explaining that Democratic candidate Mark Udall received two contributions from PACs connected to Abramoff; Republicans are also charging this led Udall to vote against anti-gambling legislation.

There is no question that the allegations against Schaffer are much more damning and they concern much more direct interactions, but the more Republicans can muddy the discussion on ethics the higher Schaffer's chance to survive this building scandal. The DSCC is working to make sure Schaffer cannot just put this behind him; they have produced an ad that hits the Republican for his 1999 trip and it is a fairly effective spot considering that the allegations the ad references are more serious and better documented than those of the average attack ad. It does not look like the clip will air on television, so Democrats are holding their fire for now.

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  • I don't much about campaign finance laws, but is it possible that maybe Ron Paul would give all his money to the NRC, I mean he has like 20 million dollars and he doesn't need them, Am I the only one worried?

    By Anonymous Carlos, At 17 April, 2008 13:27  

  • I don't much about campaign finance laws

    Federal law caps individual donations to any national party committee at $18,500 per year, with no more than $65,500 to all national party committees and PACs. That limit applies to political committee donations as well.

    For the donation rules, check out
    http://opensecrets.org and follow the links on "The Basics" to "Campaign Finance Law."

    Another question, though, has to do with "527 Organizations" to which people can donate an unlimited amount. While the DCCC is in a vastly better position than its Republican counterpart, the 527s can step in and run their own "issue" ads as long as they don't say to vote for or against a candidate and don't coordinate with campaigns. The 527s are the wild card in terms of election funding.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 17 April, 2008 13:56  

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