The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this week trimmed its television presence by about $225,000 in the Pittsburgh media market. That spending would have gone to Larry Maggi, the Democrat challenging Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny).
The DCCC will still be on TV in the 12th district, but as of today Republican Keith Rothfus will have a 3-2 TV advantage over Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) in the final 3 weeks of the campaign.
The DCCC will have $350,000 on TV in Pittsburgh next week after cutting $28,000; $235,000 on the following week after cutting $160,000; and $438,000 the final week of the campaign after cutting $40,000. That’s according to two Republicans and one Democrat with knowledge of the changes.
These aren’t refunds; it’s time that the DCCC had reserved on various broadcast stations but now is deciding not to purchase. They would be independent expenditure dollars, meaning that the ads would not have been coordinated with campaigns or candidates.
Two Democratic operatives said the cuts actually came at the expense of Maggi in the neighboring 18th district.
Update: Americans for Tax Reform confirmed that it will drop another $840,000 in pro-Rothfus (or anti-Critz) ads, as PoliticsPA reported below.
Additionally, a second look at the broadcast station filings with the Federal Communications Commission show that the $225K was listed as part of a PA-12 ad buy, not PA-18. That money could have been shifted, theoretically, to Maggi, but he was not its original beneficiary.
That was confirmed by a GOP source familiar with the traffic change.
Now, as far as current filings show, the DCCC is spending at the same levels as its counterparts at the National Republican Congressional Committee. Likewise the Critz and Rothfus campaigns themselves are at approximate parity.
Rothfus’s advantage comes with other outside groups: Americans for Tax Reform and the Young Guns Action Fund are both planning to stay on the air through election day. Overall, pro-Rothfus (or anti-Critz) ads comprise about 60 percent of the $4.27 million ad dollars currently set for the 12th district.
That could change almost on a dime. If groups allied with Critz sense that the race is slipping away, expect to see them rush back onto the air.
For most of September, Critz and his allies enjoyed a majority of TV ad dollars, with AFSCME, SEIU and the House Majority PAC outspending the Republicans.
A series of internal polls have been published on the race, with Republican polls showing Rothfus even or with a slight edge, and Democratic polls showing Critz with a comfortable lead.
Neither party is likely to cut the district completely, as the DCCC did earlier this week in the Philadelphia market. The committee is seeking to spread its resources effectively nationally.
Maggi finished the 2nd quarter with about $400,000 on hand to Murphy’s $1,000,000.
TV isn’t the only way outside groups are helping. The AFL-CIO has knocked 31,000 doors and made 34,000 phone calls so far in PA-12 and will send 3 flights of mail there. FreedomWorks for American, a conservative super PAC, said it was doing a voter ID program for Rothfus.