The National Republican Congressional Committee is set to go up with new ads this week against a pair of Democratic incumbents who had been considered lower-tier targets this fall, providing further proof that the House playing field is still fluid with 49 days to go before the elections.
According to a GOP strategist who tracks ad buys, the NRCC has placed an $82,000 buy against Rep. Rick Boucher in Virginia’s 9th district as well as a $45,000 buy against Rep. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th district. The ad buys are for Friday to Sept. 23.
Neither Boucher or McIntyre was included on the original list of 45 districts that the NRCC said it would target this fall with about $24 million in ad buys.
Boucher faces Republican Morgan Griffith, the Majority Leader of Virginia’s House of Delegates. Griffith was quickly moved up on the NRCC’s candidate recruitment list after he entered the contest early this year, but his fundraising has been lackluster. Boucher’s southwestern Virginia district is very culturally conservative, and Republicans view him as especially vulnerable because of his vote last year for a climate change bill that included a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The inclusion of McIntyre is a bit more surprising.
While the 7th district slightly favors the GOP and went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by 5 points in the 2008 presidential election, McIntyre is a fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat who has never earned less than 69 percent of the vote since winning his seat in 1996.
Republicans have spent more time talking up their chances in the neighboring 8th district this cycle, but in a favorable environment GOP strategists may be looking to target McIntyre for supporting the controversial stimulus bill this cycle. Republicans nominated little-known veteran Ilario Pantano to challenge McIntyre.