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GOP Super PAC Plans to Go All In on Pelosi Attacks

Congressional Leadership Fund polling shows minority leader underwater

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will continue to be targeted by outside groups to attack Democrats in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will continue to be targeted by outside groups to attack Democrats in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On the heels of a Republican victory in Georgia’s 6th District last week, the major GOP super PAC that played in that race is making known its plans to spend millions tying Democratic House candidates to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2018.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by House GOP leadership, spent $7 million in the Georgia special election — much of it on attacks that tried to tie Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff to Pelosi. It launched similar attacks against the Democrat in the special election for Montana’s at-large district, which Republicans also won.  

In a Tuesday memo to interested parties (with the subject line #StandWithPelosi), Corry Bliss, the group’s executive director, released polling from 11 GOP-held districts that showed Pelosi with higher unfavorable numbers than favorable numbers. The surveys, commissioned ahead of the Congressional Leadership Fund launching its national field program, were conducted in the last 60 days, but the CLF did not release its survey methodology. 

The districts include California’s 10th, 21st and 25th and 39th, Florida’s 26th, Georgia’s 6th, Iowa’s 3rd, Minnesota’s 3rd, Montana’s at-large, Nebraska’s 2nd and New York’s 24th. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included all of those seats (except for Montana) on its list of 79 seats to be targeted in 2018 (released before last week’s special elections). 

The CLF has already announced its plans to spend $100 million on the midterms. A big part of that spending will be Pelosi-themed messaging.

“During the 2018 cycle, CLF will spend millions of dollars highlighting Nancy Pelosi’s toxic agenda and reminding voters across the country that Democratic candidates are nothing more than rubber stamps for her out-of-touch, liberal policies,” Bliss said. 

Pelosi has become a frequent boogeyman in GOP attacks, and those attacks have fueled some Democratic members’ calls for new leadership at the top of their party. 

But Pelosi allies and the DCCC, meanwhile, maintain that their own polling shows President Donald Trump’s job performance numbers remain underwater in Republican-held districts and that GOP outside groups — like the CLF — won’t be able to spend as much as they did on all competitive districts in 2018 as they’ve done in isolated special elections so far this year. 

“There is no evidence to suggest this strategy works,” said Jorge Aguilar, executive director at Nancy Pelosi for Congress. “If anything this memo shows Republicans are on defense. Desperation is not a strategy and Republicans will not be able to spend $25 million on each and every seat.”

In a memo released by the DCCC last week, entitled “The House is in Play,” Chairman Ben Ray Lujan revealed that in 24 districts surveyed by the committee or outside pollsters, generic Democrats are leading “or have made significant shifts from the last polls available in 2016.” In several districts — Arizona’s 2nd, Florida’s 18th, Kansas’ 3rd and New Jersey’s 11th — Democratic polling showed GOP incumbents losing to specific Democrats in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.

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