Signaling retreat, House Republicans are scaling back television advertising in three highly contested races, officials said Tuesday, including Rep. Curt Weldon's scandal-tinged bid for re-election in Pennsylvania and open seats in Colorado and Ohio.
Some of the funds will be spent to help other Republicans in races that remain competitive.
In contrast to the Republican strategic retreat, House Democrats are expanding the number of districts where they are advertising, an indication of growing confidence as Election Day approaches. In recent days, the party's campaign committee has moved into districts in New Hampshire, New York, Kansas and Nebraska that have long been in GOP hands.
Control of Congress
Democrats must gain 15 seats to win control of the House and six to capture control of the Senate on Nov. 7.
Of the two, the Senate appears a more difficult challenge, and Republicans moved during the day to fortify their position.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported it would spend an additional $1 million in the campaign's final days to help Virginia Sen. George Allen in a re-election race that has become far tougher than originally expected.
At the same time, Senate Republicans decided to advertise on behalf of embattled Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana for the first time since August, and beefed up its support for Sen. Lincoln Chafee, trailing in the polls in Rhode Island.
Additionally, the party will begin an independent ad campaign in Michigan for the first time this year, hoping to prevent Sen. Debbie Stabenow from winning a new term.
Why the move
The information about the various moves came from public records at the Federal Election Commission as well as experts in both parties who track television advertising and campaign strategy. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss confidential matters in public.
Weldon, a 10-term lawmaker who appeared to be cruising to re-election not long ago, has become ensnared in a federal corruption investigation. The government is investigating allegations that he used his influence to help his daughter's lobbying firm secure contracts worth $1 million from foreign clients. The FBI recently raided his daughter's home and office in what Weldon termed a politically motivated inquiry.
It appeared that much of the advertising money the National Republican Congressional Committee had intended for his seat in the campaign's final days would be redirected to help Pennsylvania Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick and Jim Gerlach.
The two other races where Republicans are scaling back advertising include the Ohio district that convicted Rep. Bob Ney has represented, and the one Rep. Bob Beauprez vacated to run for governor of Colorado.
House Republicans have reported spending more than $3 million to hold Ney's seat so far, and it appeared that at least a portion of the money intended for that race will now be spent to help Rep. Deborah Pryce, who is locked in a difficult campaign elsewhere in the state.
The Colorado race pits Democrat Ed Perlmutter against Republican Rick O'Donnell. Perlmutter has led comfortably in recent polls, and Republican strategists apparently concluded the money ticketed for that race could be better spent trying to help re-elect Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, seeking a new term in a different part of Colorado.
In Ohio, Democrat Zack Space is running against State Sen. Joy Padgett. Her campaign has been hindered by Ney's refusal to resign from Congress even though he pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges earlier in the month.