The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent about $4 million in the last several days to reserve television advertising time in several large media markets in preparation for contested campaigns to come.
The committee reserved $2.1 million on costly New York City broadcast media time on behalf of city councilman Mike McMahon, the likely Democratic nominee in retiring Rep. Vito Fossella’s Staten Island district.
It also blocked off $1.2 million on Portland broadcast television for retiring Rep. Darlene Hooley’s Oregon district. And the DCCC spent $667,000 on Denver broadcast TV on behalf of Democrat Betsy Markey, who is challenging Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.).
The moves don’t necessarily mean these races will be among the most competitive this election cycle – and are more a reflective of the cost of advertisements in these Congressional districts. By reserving television time for the fall campaign early on, the DCCC gets a discounted rate on pricey advertising buys. If a race becomes less competitive, they can get their money refunded – occasionally with a small penalty assessed.
Indeed, with the local Republican party still struggling to find a viable nominee for Fossella's seat, it's possible the DCCC may find themselves in such good position that they could better spend their money elsewhere -- or use the money on behalf of three other Democrats running in competitive races in the New York media market.
And with the Republican nominee in Hooley's seat, businessman Mike Erickson, facing allegations that he paid for his ex-girlfriend's abortion and later lied about it, that's a race that could also fall off the radar screen.
But signaling that the committee is willing to put money in NYC broadcast television -- fairly rare for a House campaign -- is just the latest product of the financial advantage the DCCC has over its Republican counterpart.
The NRCC, with only $6.6 million cash-on-hand, doesn't have the luxury of reserving expensive advertising time -- and will likely be making most of their decision where to advertise down the road.