March 8, 2018 at 6:00 AM
The most prominent Democratic super PAC exclusively targeting House races said Thursday it plans to reserve $43 million worth of TV ad time ahead of November’s midterm elections, sketching out dozens of media markets where it plans to spend.
House Majority PAC (HMP) has close ties to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and is the Democrats’ main counterweight to Republican super PAC spending led by the Congressional Leadership Fund, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth Action and other independent GOP organs.
The early ad reservations are not binding — they can be modified, canceled or enlarged later in the election cycle — but they allow ad buyers to lock in lower rates in key media markets where House campaigns will be potentially competing with Senate, gubernatorial and other races for ad time. This year, HMP’s ad reservations are coming weeks earlier than in prior cycles.
“2018 will bring a barrage of frantic negative attack ads from GOP outside groups, but HMP is ensuring we’re prepared early on to fight back,” Charlie Kelly, HMP’s executive director, said in a statement. “Momentum is on our side, and with smart, strategic investments, we will help Democrats win across the country.”
The 33 media markets run the gamut from Los Angeles, where HMP is planning to spend $5.2 million to target vulnerable Republican House incumbents such as Steve Knight, Dana Rohrabacher and Mimi Walters, as well as the open seat being vacated by Edward R. Royce; to Washington, D.C., where $1.9 million in spending is being squarely targeted at Virginia’s Barbara Comstock; to much smaller markets such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where HMP plans to spend $540,000 against Rod Blum, as well as Portland, Bangor and Presque Isle, Maine, where a combined $1,694,000 is aimed at Bruce Poliquin.
The $43 million total gives the best indication yet of the Democratic super PAC’s 2018 fundraising ambitions. So far, the group’s fundraising has lagged its GOP counterpart, the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is closely aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and has announced plans to spend $100 million for the 2018 cycle, although not exclusively on TV. At the end of January, HMP reported having $11.6 million on hand, but it is not unusual for political groups to make reservations in advance of fundraising. In the 2016 cycle, HMP raised and spent about $56 million, and the group expects to exceed that total in 2018.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, meanwhile, recently reported raising nearly $10 million this year alone, bringing its cash on hand to nearly $25 million. But while GOP outside groups — which operate without limits on donations — have raked in cash, direct fundraising by Republican campaigns has lagged Democratic campaigns, which have been able to tap a national network of small-dollar donors to fill their coffers.