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NRCC Set to Expand TV Ad Buys to 11 Districts

The National Republican Congressional Committee is set to launch a major television ad blitz in 11 Congressional districts next week in what will be the House GOP’s first multi-district independent expenditure drop of the 2010 cycle.

Earlier this week, the NRCC opened its fall TV campaign with a 30-second spot in the South Bend, Ind., media market targeting Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). The NRCC will remain on the airwaves in Indiana’s 2nd district next week while also targeting Alabama’s 2nd district, Arizona’s 1st district, California’s 11th district, Florida’s 2nd district, Kentucky’s 6th district, Mississippi’s 1st district, Tennessee’s 8th district, Texas’ 17th district, Virginia’s 5th district and Wisconsin’s 7th district.

According to a senior strategist with knowledge of the buys, the ads are scheduled to begin as early as Sunday. The ads are part of the more than $24 million the NRCC has said it plans to spend in 45 districts around the country.

A general theme that is carried across the new round of ads is that Democrats are supporting Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and not representing their districts. In the ad that is set to go up against Rep. Ben Chandler, an announcer describes the Kentucky Democrat as Pelosi’s “lapdog.”

“Ben Chandler’s not listening to Kentucky, but Chandler is listening to Nancy Pelosi,” the announcer says. “Chandler voted with Pelosi on spending, on taxes, and on the cap and trade energy scheme experts say could cost Kentucky 35,000 jobs.”

A few of the Democrats being targeted with the ads weren’t originally viewed as highly vulnerable at the start of the cycle, including Chandler, Rep. Allen Boyd (Fla.) and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), whose district was considered somewhat of a long shot for Republicans until recently.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brushed off the round of ads as the GOP’s latest effort to nationalize the November elections. House Democrats have maintained they will be able to hold their 39-seat majority because races will be decided on local issues, not a nationalized referendum on the party’s leadership.

“Democratic leadership always tells Members that their job title is their job description, Representative,” DCCC Communications Director Jennifer Crider said. “They will be successful because they are independent voices and advocates for their districts.”

Some incumbents that the NRCC is targeting, including Reps. Tom Perriello (Va.) and Travis Childers (Miss.), are generally considered to be at the top of incumbent vulnerability lists this cycle. Taking aim at them early could be a way to try to deal their campaigns a fatal blow early in the air war.

The DCCC has already committed to spending funds to help boost Perriello and Childers, as part of $49 million in TV time reservations across 60 districts. But race prognosticators will be watching to see whether the DCCC maintains its commitments in tough districts like those in Virginia and Mississippi, or whether it moves that money to other contests that look as if they will be easier to hold.

The NRCC will also target candidate Julie Lassa (D) in the Wisconsin open-seat race where the DCCC launched its IE campaign last week with an ad against Republican Sean Duffy. The only other open-seat race on the list of 11 targets is Tennessee’s 8th district, which is being vacated by retiring Rep. John Tanner (D).

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