DCCC Picks Early Targets
Congress has been in session less than a month, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already going up on the air, targeting 19 vulnerable members with radio ads and a coordinated campaign as part of their effort to reclaim their majority in 2012.
The radio ads, web ads, and phone calls that begin Monday are part of the DCCC's "Drive to 25" campaign -- the number of seats Democrats need to take back the House. These 19 districts are must-wins for them in two years, and all but two members on the list are freshman. Many of them, such as Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) -- were surprise wins in 2010 and sit in districts Pres. Obama won in 2008.
The majority of the ads focus on the GOP's plan to cut spending, saying that their member has "a plan to cut education and research by 40 percent that will cost hundreds-of-thousands of jobs and make America less competitive." But there are two noticeable exceptions to that standard script: Reps. David Rivera (R-Fla.) and. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).
Rivera is facing several deepening investigations related to his personal finances and campaign spending and is quickly becoming a thorn in the GOP's side, prompting speculation that he may not even finish out his first term. The DCCC's ad against the Miami freshman points out he's "under criminal investigation for receiving secret payments from his mother's company."
Fitzpatrick, who grabbed not-so-flattering headlines after missing the official congressional swearing-in along with National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), also gets his own specially-tailored ad, asking, "Did you know [Fitzpatrick] is under an ethics investigation for skipping his swearing in to attend a fundraiser at the Capitol?"
By including Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) on the list, Democrats are signaling they're ready to play in territory that may even be an uphill climb. Hurt bested one-term Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) in what had been a GOP-leaning district before Perriello's upset win in 2008. But Democrats point out that Hurt's slim margin of victory of less than four percent was lower than it should have been in a Republican wave election, and that with Obama at the top of the ticket, they intend to target the Southern Virginia seat again.
Only two longer-serving incumbents are on the list who both represent districts Obama won in 2008 -- Reps. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) and Dave Reichert (R-Wa.). McCotter's suburban Detroit district is nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, he hasn't had a close election since 2008, but Democrats are willing to make him a target this year. Reichert's suburban Seattle district has been routinely challenged by Democrats who always fall short.
The NRCC responded by praising the their new members' early work on Capitol Hill.
"As soon as they got here, House Republicans worked to fulfill their campaign promise to cut spending and lower debt, so that government can get out of the way of job creators," said NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos. "Clearly, Democrats don't know how to create jobs or keep a promise."
Here's the complete list of Republicans targeted by the ads: Lou Barletta (Pa.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Sean Duffy (Wis.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Robert Hurt (Va.), Thad McCotter (Mich.), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Dave Reichert (Wa.), David Rivera (Fla.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Joe Walsh (Ill.) and Allen West (Fla.).