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DCCC Reserves $19M Worth of Airtime

Democrats reserved nearly $19 million more in broadcast airtime this week across 24 House districts, throwing down yet another financial marker for the fall elections.

The reservation marks the second stage of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $46.3 million television spree scheduled for after Labor Day.

The competition for ad time is steeper than ever this cycle, with presidential campaigns and well-funded outside groups plotting billion-dollar blitzes this fall. By reserving time in the hottest television markets early, the DCCC ensures the best rates and placement for its spots.

To be clear, the DCCC can cancel its reservation or shift money to different markets as races fluctuate. Nonetheless, the planned spending is far ahead of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has yet to announce any fall TV buys.

The DCCC’s chosen markets also provide a glimpse of which races it believes will be competitive come November. For example, this round of reservations includes almost $5 million in Sacramento, Calif.,  and $3.6 million in Boston to target House Republicans and boost Democratic incumbents.

According to a breakdown of the reservation obtained by Roll Call, the committee plans to spend millions in major markets where several candidates are running. The DCCC memo did not always state whether the buy would target a specific candidate or race, allowing the committee to “shield its strategy until an ad runs.”  

Included in this reservation is:

• $4.77 million in the Sacramento, Calif., market. Republican Reps. Dan
Lungren and Jeff Denham face tough races there this fall. Democratic Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney are being targeted by the GOP in that market as well.

• $3.67 million in the Boston media market — one of the priciest in the country. The market covers the districts of two Bay State Democrats, Reps. John Tierney and Bill Keating, as well as GOP Reps. Frank Guinta and Charles Bass in New Hampshire.

• $3.1 million in the expensive Chicago market — a key area where Democrats hope to pick up several seats. Three Republicans have uphill battles of varying degrees in the Chicagoland suburbs: Reps. Joe Walsh, Judy Biggert and Robert Dold.

• $2.33 million in the Phoenix market, which covers the new 9th district and the open 1st district, both competitive seats.

The DCCC also reserved airtime in smaller markets aimed at individual districts, including:

• $890,000 for the competitive open-seat 1st district race in Washington state, covered by the expensive Seattle market. The nominees in this race will be picked in the top-two primary in August.

• $637,000 for the St. Louis media market to target the 13th district in Illinois. Rep. Timothy Johnson’s (R-Ill.) sudden retirement after the primary gave Democrats an opportunity in this downstate seat. The Democratic nominee is emergency room physician David Gill. Democrats previously reserved time in this market in the first stage of their ad buy for the nearby 12th district open seat.

• $505,000 in New Mexico’s 1st district, covered by the Albuquerque market. Democrats are defending this open seat and are heavily favored to hold it after Republicans failed to recruit a top candidate.

• $332,000 in the Dayton, Ohio, market for the 10th district. Democrats are attempting to target Rep. Michael Turner (R) because his district became more competitive under the Buckeye State’s redrawn map.

• $523,000 in Indiana’s 8th district split between the Evansville and Terre Haute media markets. Democrats are attempting to unseat freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon (R), who faces former state Rep. Dave Crooks (D) in the GOP-leaning seat.

• $521,000 in the Minot-Bismarck and Fargo markets for North Dakota’s open at-large district. Freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R) is running for Senate, giving Democrats an opportunity to win back the seat with their presumptive nominee, former state Rep. Pam Gulleson. She’ll face the winner of next week’s GOP primary.

• $514,000 in Michigan’s 1st district across two markets — Marquette and Traverse City. In this competitive Upper Peninsula district, freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R) faces a rematch with former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D).

• $337,000 in the Tucson, Ariz., market for the 2nd district, where Democrats hope they will be defending a competitive seat instead of trying to win it back. The winner of next week’s special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) will run there this fall.

• $297,000 in the South Bend, Ind., market for the open 2nd district race where Iraq War Veteran Brendan Mullen (D) faces former state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R).

• $243,000 in the relatively cheap Rockford, Ill., market, where freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) faces a tough re-election in a Democratic-leaning district.

• $224,000 in the Myrtle Beach market for South Carolina’s new 7th district, a GOP-leaning seat that is an uphill climb for Democrats.

The DCCC’s first wave of fall TV reservations included markets that covered targeted House races in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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