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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 02/23/2011

Crossroads GPS launches radio ads in 22 House districts

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake

Crossroads GPS, a conservative-aligned outside group, is launching radio ads in nearly two dozen House districts today, aiming to influence the ongoing debate over President Obama's budget proposal while Members are back home in their districts during recess.

The ads target 12 Democrats for voting against a GOP-backed bill to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, while praising 10 Republicans for voting for the legislation, which included major spending cuts.

"Last week, members like [California Democratic Rep.] Jim Costa voted to to continue the failed spending policies of Pelosi and Obama," says the ad's narrator in one ad. "They just don't get it."

Crossroads GPS and its affiliate, American Crossroads, raised $71 million for the 2010 election. It will spend roughly $375,000 on the ad buys, which will run in the districts for a week.

The Democrats targeted by the ads are Costa and some other members Republicans unsuccessfully targeted in 2010: Reps. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Bill Owens (N.Y.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike Michaud (Maine) and Rick Larsen (Wash.).

The Republicans getting a "thank you" ad from Crossroads include potentially vulnerable Reps. Bob Dold (Ill.), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Robert Hurt (Va.), Sean Duffy (Wis.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Quico Canseco (Texas), Jamie Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Lou Barletta (Pa.) and Frank Guinta (N.H.)

The ads, which provide an early window into both parties' most vulnerable members heading into 2012, are the second major buy Crossroads has laid down this year.

Earlier this month, the group spent $95,000 on radio ads in 19 Republican-held districts where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had launched ads of their own attacking the GOP members for supporting cuts to education and research.

The early spending suggests that Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads plan on continuing their active presence in House and Senate elections -- not to mention the presidential race -- in 2012.

(American Crossroads is a "527" organization and must disclose its donors; Crossroads GPS is a 501(c)(4) and is not required to disclose the names of its contributors.)

No such vehicle of that scale has emerged on the Democratic side yet, although three Senate operatives raised and spent more than $4 million on the midterms through a group known as Commonsense Ten, and top Senate aides are now forming a new "Super PAC."

There is considerable talk in Democratic circles about building an outside group to match the financial might demonstrated by American Crossroads/Crossraods GPS in the 2010 election.

NRCC launches calls in 10 districts: Crossroads isn't the only GOP-aligned group going up with a message offensive over recess.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is launching phone calls today targeting 10 vulnerable Democrats for voting against the GOP-backed bill funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

The calls seek to attach the vote to the Democrats' support of the stimulus bill last Congress, saying the members voted for big spending two years ago and now start this Congress by opposing big cuts.

"You thought Matheson would've learned his lesson after his big-spending stimulus failed, but last week he voted against a budget bill that actually cut spending," says one call targeting Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah). (Audio here.)

Matheson, Chandler, Donnelly, Bishop and Heinrich all have the unenviable distinction of being targeted by both the Crossroads ads and the NRCC calls. The other Democrats targeted by the NRCC calls are Reps. Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Jason Altmire (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Dan Boren (Okla.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).

An NRCC source declined to specify the size of the buy.

Dallas mayor to resign, moves toward Senate bid: Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (R) will announce Wednesday that he is resigning, effective at the end of the week, making his first step towards a Senate bid.

The move, which was confirmed by a source close to Leppert, was first reported late Tuesday by the Dallas Morning News.

Dallas law does not allow its mayor to seek other office while still serving, so Leppert's resignation is a key first step.

The source said Leppert will not announce his Senate plans Wednesday, but such an announcement would be made in the coming days.

"This definitely sets up that run and allows him to start thinking about it," the source said.

If he were to run, Leppert plans to point to his experience creating jobs in the private sector and as mayor.

Leppert is one of many Republicans eyeing the seat of retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). Others include Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former secretary of state Roger Williams, state Solicitor General Ted Cruz and state Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones.

Mayor Rahm: Rahm Emanuel ran away with the Chicago mayor's race on Tuesday, collecting well more than 50 percent of the vote and avoiding an April 5 runoff.

Emanuel, who until late last year was President Obama's chief of staff, was declared the winner less than an hour after polls closed. He will succeed Mayor Richard M. Daley in the Windy City.

Emanuel's victory was a testament to his political know-how, but he also avoided big-name competition and was only in jeopardy when a residency challenge looked as though it may derail his campaign.

Fixbits:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is defending his decision to not pursue or name the camp counselor he said made unwanted sexual advances on him when he was a child. Brown also says he will support Mitt Romney if the former Massachusetts governor runs for president again.

Tea Party-affiliated Americans for Prosperity is launching a $340,000 ad buy supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) during the ongoing protests in Madison.

Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) launched his primary challenge to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on Tuesday.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) compares the Wisconsin protesters to drug addicts reliant on government spending. "They are acting like their drug is being taken away from them," Santorum said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) unveiled his budget on Tuesday.

Must-reads:

The Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College is up with a great new redistricting website, with extensive looks at the process in each state and lots of other information.

"Video Exclusive: Reagan endorses Barbour" -- Ben Smith, Politico

"Poll: Americans oppose weaker unions" -- Dennis Cauchon, USA Today

"R.I. GOP Still Hopeful Whitehouse Challenger Will Emerge" -- Steve Peoples, Roll Call

"Exodus: Dems trigger Statehouse showdown" -- Mary Beth Schneider, Indianapolis Star

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake  | February 23, 2011; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Romney's health care bill = Hillary's Iraq vote?

 
 
 
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