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DCCC, DSCC, MoveOn Hit the Airwaves

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will launch radio ads in the districts of three Ohio Republican members over Thanksgiving weekend in an effort to portray the lawmakers as footsoldiers for President George W. Bush's agenda.

The ads will run in the districts represented by Reps. Steve Chabot, Deborah Pryce and Steve LaTourette -- all three of whom are top Democratic targets in 2006. The DCCC would not release a copy of the ad, but sources familiar with the effort say that the radio commercials will be based on the idea that the three Ohio Republicans are a "rubber stamp" for the Bush agenda. DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) sounded a similar theme at a press conference last week.

"We have gone through five years of key Members who have basically been George Bush's partner in his economic policy and other policies," said Emanuel Tuesday. He added that after last week's budget reconciliation vote, people are paying attention to Congress and are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. "There is a case to be built," said Emanuel.

National Democrats see Ohio as a litmus test for voter dissatisfaction with Republican governance. Outgoing Gov. Bob Taft (R) has been embroiled in a series of scandals that have left his political career in tatters. Democrats are making real runs at the open gubernatorial seat as well as at Sen. Mike DeWine (R). On the House side, a number of districts have the potential to be competitive if Democrats can secure top-tier candidates.

In Pryce's 15th district, which President Bush carried last year by less than 3,000 out of more than 300,000 votes cast, Democrats are very high on Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D).

Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy is seen as the preferred Democratic candidate against LaTourette in the 14th district, although he has yet to signal his intentions for 2006. Bush carried LaTourette's seat by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin last November.

Chabot last faced a serious challenge in 1998 when he defeated Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls (D).  On paper, the 1st district is competitive between the parties, as Bush won it just 51 percent to 49 percent over John Kerry in 2004.  But no serious Democratic challenger has emerged yet.

Beyond Ohio, the Montana Democratic Party is airing an ad that takes Sen. Conrad Burns (R) to task on several fronts including his connection to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "Tell Burns to work for Montana's working families, not indicted lobbyists," says the ad's narrator. (Watch the ad on the state party's Web site.)

Moveon.org is joining the holiday ad fray with a television commercial aimed at eight Republican House Members -- almost all of whom sit in decidedly safe GOP seats. The target list includes Reps. Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio), Geoff Davis (Ky.), Jack Kingston (Ga.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.), Steve King (Iowa) and J.D. Hayworth (Ariz.).

The ad, which will hit the airwaves on Thanksgiving Day, urges viewers, "Tell your representative. Support our troops. Bring them home" (Watch it here.)

Carl Forti, communications director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, scoffed at the effectiveness of an ad campaign that coincides with one of the year's major holidays. "I can't think of a better time to waste money than to run political ads over Thanksgiving weekend," Forti said.

Spokesmen for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee said no Thanksgiving ad campaigns are under consideration.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 22, 2005; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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