WASHINGTON (AP) — Starting a $75 million national advertising blitz, both parties' House campaign arms on Tuesday began running television spots that are not expected to relent before November's elections.
In New York and New Jersey, the Democratic Congressional Committee began spending $2.3 million on ads in districts represented by Republicans. In Florida, the National Republican Congressional Committee started what will be a $1.7 million campaign to defend Rep. Steve Southerland, who risks being voted out of Congress after two terms.
The early spending is only expected to escalate as voters start paying closer attention to elections. Democrats face a steep climb in their bid to oust House Republicans from their majority. Despite long odds, donors have helped Democrats outraise the National Republican Congressional Committee in 16 of the last 18 months and build a mountain of campaign cash to spend on ads against Republicans.
Democrats' campaign arm has asked television stations to set aside $44 million in ad time. Republicans' have booked more than $30 million. Both numbers are likely to change as strategists add or nix districts as they become more competitive or slip from reach.
The tone of the first committee ads, of course, was decidedly negative.
"Michael Grimm. Can you believe this guy?" asks the Democrats' ad against the two-term incumbent Republican facing criminal charges. The 30-second ads are expected to stay on New York City cable stations through Oct. 13, at a cost of almost $1 million.
As black-and-white video of Grimm plays, audio from news reports about his criminal troubles play in the background. "The Republican has been indicted by the feds," NBC anchor Brian Williams says in the ad.
Grimm is accused of evading taxes and hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages from a small Manhattan restaurant. He has been indicted on 20 criminal counts.
The Staten Island lawmaker and former FBI agent has pleaded not guilty. He says he's the target of a political smear campaign aimed at driving him out of office.
National Republicans have largely conceded the seat to Democrats. The National Republican Congressional Committee has not booked airtime to defend Grimm and was silent on Tuesday's anti-Grimm ad.
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