Crossroads purchased ad time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign
Committee said it, too, would spend $250,000 this week.
Tuesday's actions, Democrats claimed their involvement in the race
included directing nearly $100,000 to Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul's
campaign. But directing money means they're passing on contributions,
rather than making their own expenditures. And make no mistake, they
once saw the race as winnable; in 2008, when GOP Rep. Tom Reynolds
retired, Democrats spent $1.2 million in direct independent expenditures
to try and win the seat.
Republicans had done more for their
nominee, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio,
spent Monday fundraising for Corwin, and the New York Republican Party
has spent money on mailings. Still, the National Republican
Congressional Committee has not spent money on its own independent ads.
the contest is a third-party candidate, Jack Davis. Running under the
tea party label, although tea partiers reject his candidacy, Davis is
spending his own money and taking a chunk of Corwin's base.
Republicans have targeted Davis, pointing out he ran for Congress as a Democrat just a few years ago.
sides' reluctance to get involved, observers say, is the product of
several factors. First, the parties would have to spend hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, to move the needle at a time when both
committees are strapped; both the DCCC and the NRCC owe $8 million in
debt, and their cash on hand is anemic.
Second, by participating,
both sides encourage observers to take larger lessons from a single
local election. If Democrats play and lose, they perpetuate a narrative
that the country still hates them; if Republicans spend and lose, they
risk giving Democrats evidence the Ryan budget is an albatross.
there's a strong chance any investment will be lost in 2012. New York
loses two seats in redistricting; Democrats and Republicans are each
likely to suffer one loss. The 26th, which lies between Buffalo and
Rochester, is the GOP district most likely to be eliminated.
the fourth reason both sides are reluctant has to do with the new
reality in Washington: The party apparatus is no longer the Beltway big
dog. Instead, outside groups that specialize in winning elections are
taking that role.
After the SpeechNow.org and Citizens United
court decisions enabled the proliferation of virtually unregulated
political cash, outside groups that spend only on independent
expenditures have filled in where party committees fall short. On the
right, American Crossroads and the American Action Network spent
millions on House and Senate races in 2010.
to respond last year, but this cycle the party is more seeking to level
the field. The House Majority PAC will raise millions to target
Republicans; they've already spent about $100,000 on radio ads in some
districts. Priorities USA, run by two veterans of the Obama White House,
will spend big bucks on Senate contests. And American Bridge 21st
Century will focus on building opposition research to pass along to the