National GOP Cancels TV Buy For Vulnerable Rep. Rothfus, Begins Triaging

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 6: Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., participates in the press conference calling on President Trump to declassify the Carter Page FISA applications on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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September 21, 2018 4:15 p.m.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has canceled its remaining TV ad reservations for vulnerable Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA), TPM has confirmed, making him the first GOP incumbent the party has officially abandoned as it looks to save its House majority.

Rothfus is facing off against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in a swing district in the Pittsburgh suburbs, and has been viewed as an underdog in the race for some time.

But the national GOP’s decision to walk away from him marks the beginning of a new period for the campaign. The NRCC had until this point refused to give up on any of its incumbents in spite of a bleak national climate. That’s a tough conversation to have with any loyal foot soldier who can’t win their race but a necessary one to save valuable and scarce resources better used on races that can still be saved.

This move doesn’t come as a huge shock, but it could be a new inflection point for the NRCC. Other incumbent Republicans who strategists have privately said might be beyond saving include Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Erik Paulsen (R-MN). The NRCC never placed a TV reservation for Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA), another member many strategists view as a goner.

The GOP ad-purchasing firm Medium Buying, which tracks campaign ad reservations, originally reported the cancellations. Two sources confirmed the cancellation to TPM.

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