House Democrats are going on defense in more races than previously expected, and now they are spending six figures to defend Rep. Steven Horsford in a supposedly safe Democratic district in Nevada, according to an announcement Wednesday.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved $360,000 of broadcast airtime in Las Vegas to defend Horsford as part of $1.4 million in final ad buys defending seven Democratic incumbents, according to a DCCC aide. The purchase is in response to a $935,000 ad buy from Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit that has begun airing TV ads highlighting possible conflicts of interest during Horsford's years in the state Legislature.
Horsford faces Republican state Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, who was considered a low-profile challenger. Hardy struggled to win the Republican nomination to challenge Horsford and has only raised about one-fourth as much money as Horsford has this cycle. President Obama won this district, the 4th, by a 15-point margin in 2012.
But Democrats are worried about early voting numbers that show a major advantage for Republicans in Nevada. According to Nevada politics guru Jon Ralston, more Republicans than Democrats have cast ballots so far in the most populous portion of the district—one where Democrats have a big voter-registration advantage. Former President Clinton traveled to the district to rally support for Horsford on Tuesday.
The DCCC will go up with a TV ad tomorrow accusing Hardy of supporting a "reckless plan to slash education programs." The ad says Hardy "backed cuts to early childhood education," would "slash K-12 funding, meaning larger class sizes," and "cut Pell grants, making it harder to pay for college."
The DCCC also spent $99,000 on radio ads defending Rep. Lois Capps of California, another Democrat who was not expected to struggle to win reelection. Capps faces a challenge from film actor Chris Mitchum, who released an internal poll last week showing him virtually tied with Capps.
The DCCC's ad buys, all running from Oct. 29 through Election Day, are listed in full below:
- California's 24th District: $99,000 defending Capps on radio.
- California's 52nd District: $265,000 defending Rep. Scott Peters on broadcast TV.
- Georgia's 12th District: $77,000 defending Rep. John Barrow on broadcast TV.
- Illinois's 10th District: $280,000 defending Rep. Brad Schneider on cable TV.
- Minnesota's 8th District: $74,000 defending Rep. Rick Nolan on broadcast TV.
- Nevada's 4th District: $360,000 defending Horsford on broadcast TV.
- West Virginia's 3rd District: $257,000 defending Rep. Nick Rahall on broadcast TV.
Update: This post has been updated with the DCCC's first TV ad against Hardy.
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Jack Fitzpatrick is a staff correspondent at National Journal. He has previously written for USA TODAY, NBCNews.com, Slate, The Arizona Republic and other newspapers and websites. He graduated from Arizona State University with a master's degree in mass communication and a bachelor's degree in journalism.