The National Republican Congressional Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (above), is trying to hold the GOP's 25-seat majority in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The partisan ad wars in the battle for control of the House are heating up, as the countdown to Election Day enters the final weeks.
The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a huge new ad blitz backed by $6.3 million.
The NRCC ads are airing Sept. 21-27 against incumbents and challengers from Arizona to West Virginia, with a heavy focus on districts in California and New York. The spots run the gamut from standard GOP attack ad fare — connecting a candidate to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or President Barack Obama — to knocking a Member for their vote in favor of the stimulus or the Affordable Care Act to creative, eye-catching spots.
An ad against Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona’s new 9th district uses an outer-space theme — Star Wars-like music and all — to paint her as “too far out.”
“Earth to Kyrsten Sinema. Come in, Kyrsten,” a staticky NASA controlleresque voice says over an animation of a satellite orbiting a planet. A female narrator then unloads points of opposition research in an attempt to portray her as extreme. “We’re losing touch with you Planet Kyrsten,” the NASA voice says.
In an interview with Roll Call Friday about negative ads generally, Sinema said she fought back against attacks by telling the truth. “I’m battle-tested and I’m tough and I’ve taken my fair share of hits,” she said. “I’m used to people making up stories and saying things about me. What I’m also used to is telling the truth to voters and having them make smart decisions.”
While the ad against Sinema was unique, many of the new spots fall into more familiar political territory. Republicans have used the cuts to future Medicare spending embedded in the Affordable Care Act in much of their recent messaging. It’s been a way for the GOP to push back against Democratic attacks that Republican Members and candidates who voted for or supported the controversial budget of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) want to “end Medicare as we know it.”
Perhaps the best distillation of that GOP communications strategy in this batch of ads is a 30-second spot against former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D), who is running in Ohio’s 6th district.
“Barack Obama is cutting $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare,” a male narrator says in the 30-second spot. “Former Congressman Charlie Wilson helped him do it. Wilson voted for Obama’s raid on Medicare. That’s why we fired Charlie Wilson. That money belongs to you.”
Republicans are widely expected to maintain control of the House come November, with operatives of both parties predicting a single-digit net seat gain for Democrats. Democrats would need to net 25 seats to win back the majority.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) maintained on Friday that the House was in play.
“It is in range,” he said.
Republicans are working to make sure it’s not.
Here are 25 of the 26 new NRCC spots by district with their Democratic target in parentheses: