Senate campaign committees buying fall ad time

PHILIP ELLIOTT
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Political operatives are starting to reserve advertising time ahead of the fall elections.

Senate Democrats’ political committee is booking more than $9 million on ads to help three endangered incumbents. House Democrats plan almost $44 million more on their uphill climb to overtake Republicans as the majority party.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, booked more than $2 million of ads in Colorado.

The ad reservations can be modified should individual races become less competitive. But by booking the time so early, the party committee locks in a lower price and a discount of as much as one-third.

It also gives hints about what seats are still in play, and which ones operatives view as safe or hopeless.

To defend endangered incumbents, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend $4.7 million to help Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, $3.6 million in Arkansas to help Sen. Mark Pryor and $1 million in New Hampshire to help Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. All face strong challengers.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, booked $2.1 million in ads in Colorado to help Rep. Cory Gardner in his race against Udall.

At the same time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is asking television stations in 36 districts to set aside broadcast and cable advertising time for the fall campaign blitz.

The House spending comes to almost $44 million in advertising requests, or $1.2 million per race. That’s the largest ever from the committee and the biggest so far this election year from a party-run campaign committee.

The Associated Press obtained race-by-race budgets from party officials who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss spending plans by name.

The level of transparency identifies which races the party committees plan to spend money on, and when. The party committee cannot coordinate with allies at super political action committees, but operatives can point to public sources such as news stories to ensure outside groups are not missing races or wasting money on redundant ads.

But the tactic comes with a risk. Rivals can see where and when the committees plan to be on the air.

For instance, the Democrats plan to spend $2.8 million on broadcast and cable ads in the Washington, D.C., media market between Oct. 21 and Nov. 4.

Rep. Frank Wolf, a 17-term Republican, is retiring and Democrats plan to compete in his Northern Virginia district, which is home to Washington suburbs.

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