Ed Tibbetts reported today for the Quad-City Times that the National Republican Congressional Committee announced plans to buy television air time in Iowa’s first and second Congressional districts. The NRCC says it will spend $900,000 on air time in the Cedar Rapids and Davenport markets to influence the IA-02 race, plus $400,000 in the Cedar Rapids market for IA-01. Although the NRCC gave IA-01 nominee Rod Blum and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks top-tier status in its program for challengers this summer, up to now the committee has only been advertising in Iowa’s third district, widely considered a tossup race.
Typically NRCC commercals focus on negative messages against the Democratic candidate, just like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mainly spends its advertising dollars attacking Republicans. The expenditures announced today will likely go for attacks on Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02), rather than on positive ads about Blum and Miller-Meeks.
Miller-Meeks desperately needs the help, because she is way behind Loebsack in cash on hand. So far this year, only one group (the Teaparty Leadership Fund) has made independent expenditures on her behalf in IA-02. It’s worth noting that the 24 counties in this district are located in five different media markets. Loebsack has been advertising district-wide. The NRCC ads will reach the largest cities in IA-02 but not voters who watch television stations based in Des Moines, Ottumwa-Kirksville, or Quincy, Illinois.
Blum has had only a little more outside help so far, mostly from the Teaparty Leadership Fund, the National Right to Life PAC, and the Faith Family Freedom Fund. As of September 30, Blum had somewhat more cash on hand than Murphy, but last week the DCCC announced plans to spend some $600,000 in IA-01. At this writing, only about $110,000 of that money had been spent.
The NRCC didn’t do much in IA-01 or IA-02 during the 2010 campaign. That year the dark money 501(c)4 group American Future Fund spent over $1 million against incumbent Bruce Braley in IA-01, most of it on tv ads.
During the 2012 cycle, the NRCC ran some tv ads against Braley but pulled out of the IA-01 race in late September. The NRCC spent more than $600,000 against Loebsack in 2012, most of it in September and early October. I’m a little surprised to see so much money moving into these races so late this year, and I assume the decision reflects NRCC confidence in various other House races around the country, where ad time had been reserved.
The DCCC spent more than half a million dollars defending Loebsack against Miller-Meeks in 2010 but was never worried enough to spend money in IA-02 in 2012, despite putting Loebsack in its incumbent protection program early in that cycle. I have not seen any ad buys from the DCCC in IA-02 this year, but Tibbetts reported today that the committee “joined with Loebsack to air a television commercial targeting Miller-Meeks.”
UPDATE: The DCCC will spend another $420,000 on Cedar Rapids television, according to Roll Call’s Abby Livingston. It’s not clear how much of that money will go toward Loebsack’s race and how much toward the open seat.