Friday, October 20, 2006

Where the NRCC is Putting Its Money

AKA: Putting Away Occam's Razor

According to CQ, lots of the NRCC's late spending is going into defending GOP held seats. In a year like this, that makes a great deal of sense.

It's disturbing that so far, the polls don't seem to show consistent improvement for the candidates who are benefiting from the spending. But there could be several reasons for that - district-by-district polls are spotty, not all the money has been spent, etc.

I have decided that this is the appropriate time to let readers know that in explaining why so many GOP candidates are doing poorly in polls, I have officially decided to set aside Occam's Razor. Between now and election day, my theories will be based on what I will call Bonhoeffer's Razor. It will be guided by this Bonhoeffer quote:

The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy

Sekptics should be aware that Bonhoeffer's Razor is already in use elsewhere in the blogosphere.

Anyway, for those keeping score at home, here are the 10 districts where the GOP is spending the most money:

Since Sept. 1, the single district receiving the most such attention from the NRCC, with $2.4 million in expenditures, is Ohio’s 18th District — the seat where the Republicans’ hold has been put at dire risk by the conviction on corruption charges of retiring six-term Republican Rep. Bob Ney. The NRCC is extending itself to help Republican state Sen. Joy Padgett, who became the party’s nominee last month after Ney acknowledged guilt in a case involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and renounced the nomination for re-election that he won in May.

The $2.4 million exceeds the total amounts raised by either major party candidate — Padgett or Democratic nominee Zack Space, an elected municipal attorney — as October began (key House race fundraising).

The NRCC has also divided $6.2 million almost evenly among three districts in the suburbs of Philadelphia where GOP incumbents face difficult races: the 6th, where two-term Rep. Jim Gerlach is opposed by Democratic lawyer Lois Murphy in a tossup race; the 7th, where 10-term Rep. Curt Weldon is an underdog against Democrat Joe Sestak, a retired Navy vice admiral; and the 8th, where freshman Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick is opposed by Democratic lawyer Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran.

The House GOP campaign unit also has independently spent $1.8 million since Sept. 1 in Florida’s 22nd District, where 13-term Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. and Democratic state Sen. Ron Klein have been raising substantial sums on their own in a contest that is too close to call.

The top 10 districts in which the NRCC reported the most independent expenditures since Sept. 1 are rounded out by:

• Iowa’s 1st ($1.57 million): Republican businessman Mike Whalen faces Democratic lawyer Bruce Braley for the seat of eight-term Rep. Jim Nussle, the Republican nominee for governor, in a district that leans Democratic in presidential races.

• Minnesota’s 6th ($1.50 million): Republican state Sen. Michele Bachmann faces Democrat Patty Wetterling, a child safety advocate. Though the district typically leans Republican, Wetterling had a strong candidate debut in 2004 as the challenger to Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy, who left the seat open this year to run for the Senate.

• Connecticut’s 2nd ($1.47 million): Republican Rep. Rob Simmons faces Democrat Joe Courtney, a former state House member, in an eastern Connecticut district that normally has a decided Democratic lean. Courtney is viewed as running a stronger campaign than he did in 2002, when he lost to Simmons by 8 points.

• Indiana’s 9th ($1.42 million): Freshman Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel is opposed by Democratic former Rep. Baron P. Hill, who beat Sodrel as the incumbent in 2002 but was then unseated by him in 2004 by a razor-thin margin.

• New York’s 24th ($1.40 million): GOP Rep. Sherwood Boehlert’s moderate views easily kept this competitive upstate district in his party’s hands over 12 terms, but the seat is up for grabs with Boehlert’s retirement. Republican state Sen. Ray Meier, who is more conservative on some issues than Boehlert, is defending the seat against a vigorous challenge by Democrat Michael Arcuri, a county district attorney.

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