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Last Minute Money Moves in Battle for Congress

Hoping to maximize every last dollar in the final days of the 2006 campaign, the Democratic and Republican national party committees continued to move cash around the country on Friday.

The National Republican Congressional Committee was the biggest spender as it tried desperately to hold the GOP House majority -- a prospect that looks more and more dim. The committee dropped more than $1 million for ads in the open Illinois 6th District, which is served by the expensive Chicago media market. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent better than $3 million on that seat -- its largest single race expenditure in the country. Polls -- both public and private -- show state Sen. Peter Roskam (R) and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) in a dead heat.

The NRCC also placed an additional $262,000 worth of ads in Arizona's 5th District where Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) appears to be in a serious danger of losing to former Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell (D). The DCCC is advertising heavily in the district as well in hopes of pulling off an upset.

Perhaps the most intriguing expenditure on the NRCC's report, which was filed today with the Federal Election Commission, is the $21,000 they paid for a poll in Iowa Rep. Jim Leach's 2nd District. Leach has held the district since 1976 despite its obvious Democratic underpinnings. (John Kerry won it with 55 percent of the vote in 2004.) The NRCC poll is likely a check-in to make sure that Leach could survive a major Democratic wave.

The DCCC made only two major ad buys on Friday. The first, which cost $190,000, was in Colorado's 4th District where Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) is being challenged by state Rep. Angie Paccione (D). Musgrave regularly underperforms in this reliably Republican district and this year is no exception. The DCCC ad buy marks its first advertising foray into the seat.

The Democratic House committee also dumped $100,000 more onto television in New York's 25th District where former congressional aide Dan Maffei (D) is running a stronger-than-expected race against Rep. James Walsh (R). The district was won by Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore in 2004 and 2000, respectively.

On the Senate side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee put $345,000 more on television against former Navy Secretary Jim Webb (D) in Virginia. Polling shows the the race between Webb and Sen. George Allen (R) to be tight, but Democrats appear optimistic while Republicans are clearly worried.

The Republican National Committee spent $467,000 on ads hitting Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) in the Tennessee Senate race and $275,000 on commercials attacking businessman Jack Davis in his race against Rep. Tom Reynolds in New York's 26th District.

As of today, most of the major spending by the national parties will cease. There simply isn't much advertising time left to buy. Now the people who have worked in the trenches of these races for the past two years will sit back and hope their hard work pays off.

Make sure to check out Sunday's Washington Post for the 2006 50-state roundup -- a look at every competitive race in the country.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 4, 2006; 2:38 PM ET
Categories:  House , Senate  
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