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National Democrats not giving up on Reps. Perriello, Nye, Kratovil

Washington Post Editors

Updated 11:40 a.m.
National Democrats are still pouring money into the reelection bids of freshman Reps. Tom Perriello (Va.), Glenn Nye (Va.) and Frank Kratovil (Md.), even as the party has largely given up on some other candidates facing similarly tough races across the country.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has drawn attention by canceling its reservations for advertising time in a handful of districts where the committee believes its chances are dwindling, shifting its resources to more winnable races.

But although Kratovil, Perriello and Nye all regularly appear on lists of the most endangered incumbents in the country, the DCCC appears to believe they still have a fighting chance and has spent more than $1.5 million combined on the three contests.

"Every day that goes by, our position in these races gets stronger as voters are reminded of how out-of-touch an agenda these Republican candidates have," said DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson. "As voters learn about the choices and consequences in this election, we're gaining ground in each of these races."

Republicans counter that Democrats are just delaying their inevitable abandonment of the three freshmen.

"They've given up on four incumbents, and they'll give up on more," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere. "Given their consistent underperformance, these three are prime targets for the next round of cuts."

Coverage of the DCCC's decisions in other parts of the country, particularly in the case of Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus (D), has focused on whether the committee pulled funding because the lawmakers in question were somehow disloyal to the party line or Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

But Kratovil, Perriello and Nye have all gotten DCCC cash despite compiling mixed voting records. On the health reform bill, for example, Perriello voted "aye" while Kratovil and Nye were opposed. Kratovil and Perriello both voted for the "cap and trade" climate change bill, while Nye voted against it.

Kratovil has been the biggest cash beneficiary of the three. On Tuesday, the DCCC reported spending $354,000 to attack his Republican candidate, state Sen. Andrew P. Harris, bringing the committee's total investment in the race this cycle to $803,000. The latest independent poll of the contest had Kratovil trailing by 3 points, and an internal Kratovil campaign poll from September showed the Democrat ahead by 6 points.

But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the 1st district -- which includes the Eastern Shore and the suburbs north and south of Baltimore -- by 19 points in the 2008 presidential race, and surveys show President Obama is extremely unpopular there. The nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report puts Kratovil's race in the "Lean Republican" category, making him one of the 10 most endangered Democratic incumbents in the country -- more so than Nye or Perriello.

In Virginia's 2nd district, which covers much of the Hampton Roads area and the state's Eastern Shore, the DCCC reported Tuesday that it had spent $148,000 to help Nye by criticizing auto dealer Scott Rigell (R). The committee has put a total of $516,000 into that race, which a recent independent poll showed Rigell leading by 6 points.

The DCCC is investing less in central Virginia's 5th district, where Perriello is fighting a high-profile contest against state Sen. Robert Hurt (R). The committee said Tuesday that it had spent $97,000 to go after Hurt, bringing its total investment for the cycle to $222,000. (The main media markets in the 5th district, Roanoke and Charlottesville, are much cheaper than Norfolk/Virginia Beach in the 2nd and Baltimore in Maryland's 1st.) Several outside groups have also made recent buys in that race, with the Sierra Club/League of Conservation Voters and the Service Employees International Union both airing ads against Hurt.

Every recent poll of the 5th district contest has shown Perriello trailing. One independent poll had the Democrat down just 1 point, while the latest poll by SurveyUSA -- whose methodology has sparked controversy -- put Hurt ahead by 11 points.

The NRCC is also spending big in all three races, as expected, given that they are viewed as prime pickup opportunities. The committee said last week that it had put $155,000 into a new ad buy against Perriello, bringing its total spending against the Democrat to $453,000. The NRCC has also spent a total of $139,000 on ads against Nye and $115,000 for commercials against Kratovil.

By Ben Pershing  | October 14, 2010; 10:53 AM ET
Categories:  Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Glenn Nye, John McCain, Polls, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Tom Perriello  
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