New Super PAC Ad Reservations Show Where Battle For Congress Will Be Fought

WASHINGTON, DC- JANUARY 17: Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Minority Leader, Nancy Peolosi, are seen dur... WASHINGTON, DC- JANUARY 17: Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Minority Leader, Nancy Peolosi, are seen during a ceremony for Bob Dole, former Senate Majority Leader, as he was presented the Congressional Gold Medal in the United States Capitol rotunda on Wednesday January 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Two big spending super PACs have plunked down huge sums on TV ad reservations, they announced Monday morning, giving the latest signal about where top strategists see the most important House and Senate races this cycle.

The larger ad reservation came from the Senate Majority PAC, Senate Democrats’ main super PAC, which plunked down $80 million for ads across nine Senate battleground states. But the more telling information came from the Congressional Leadership Fund, House Republicans’ main super PAC, which added $15 million in ad reservations to a big earlier investment, bringing its total reservations for the cycle to $60 million.

The CLF’s new reservations are telling for where the committee sees highly vulnerable seats — and perhaps where it sees some that are past saving.

The committee has reserved $2 million to protect retiring Rep. Ed Royce’s (R-CA) Democratic-leaning seat, as well as $2.1 million for Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and $1 million for Rep. John Faso (R-NY). The money for Royce’s seat comes after his former staffer, former California Assemblywoman Young Kim (R), won her primary there last week, and shows the committee isn’t ready to give up on the expensive district.

Notably, the CLF didn’t make any reservations to protect retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) Democratic-leaning seat, a sign the committee may be walking away from it. They also haven’t reserved any ads for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in a race where it’s still not clear which Democrat will emerge to face him as votes are still being counted, though they could obviously come in later if it appears the stronger Democrat emerges in that race.

The committee also beefed up earlier ad buys for Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Andy Barr (R-KY), Mike Bost (R-IL), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and in a Minnesota ad buy that could go for a number of districts.

“This additional media reservation, along with our House-focused national field program, will help CLF accomplish our mission of protecting the House Republican majority this fall,” CLF head Corry Bliss said in a statement.

The Senate Democratic ad reservations contain few surprises. The $80 million from the Senate Majority PAC will be divided up across six states where Democrats are on defense — Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia — and three where they’re aiming to pick up seats in Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee. A SMP spokesman refused to say exactly how that money will be divvied up, but promised each state would get at least $1 million.

“We look forward to building off our existing momentum with smart, tactical planning to ensure victory in November,” SMP President JB Poersch said in a statement.

That list leaves off two races Republicans have hoped would be competitive — reelection battles for Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — as well as Texas, where Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is taking on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in an uphill fight, and Mississippi, where recently appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) is facing hardline conservative Chris McDaniel and former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D) in a race Democrats think could become competitive if Espy faces McDaniel in the post-November runoff.

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