Dems cancel ad buys in local House races

National Democrats have canceled $1.1 million of television ads that were supposed to help local House challengers in the stretch run of their campaigns.

Pulling the ads for Oct. 25-29 gives a strong indication that the races are not shaping up as closely as Democrats had hoped, and that they feel better off putting their resources elsewhere. Republicans also canceled their ads -- in response, the GOP said -- showing that both sides feel they are better off putting their money into other campaigns.

Democrats have listed four suburban Republican Congressmen here as top targets – Pennsylvania’s Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Pat Meehan and South Jersey’s Jon Runyan.

But the Democratic cancellation reveals a realization that “these campaigns are sinking,” said Nat Sillin, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP’s national House campaign arm.

The NRCC canceled roughly $700,000 worth of ads for the same time frame. That means neither campaign arm feels they need to spend money on television here in a crucial week leading up to Election Day, Nov. 6.

Sillin said the move specifically shows that the challenges by Democrats Kathy Boockvar, in a Bucks County-based race against Fitzpatrick, and Shelley Adler, in a Burlington-centered race against Runyan, are floundering. They are widely seen as Democrats' best hopes for flipping seats in our area.

The air time, however, was not purchased for any specific campaign, according to ad sellers at two local networks, so they could have been used for any races. The candidates could still purchase airtime themselves, but the incumbent Republicans hold significant fund-raising advantages in each race.

Democrats pushed back against the argument that they have given up hope.

“With President Obama running strong in the Philadelphia suburbs and the NRCC following Mitt Romney and cutting out, we are confident that our strong Democratic challengers in the area will be able to capitalize on their opponents’ toxic records,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

News of the ad cancelations came on the same day that one of the local Democratic challengers, Manan Trivedi, told me he had a strong third quarter of fund-raising, putting him over the $1 million mark for the campaign. He’ll need that cash, as will other local Democratic challengers, if they hope to compete on television in one of the last weeks before the election.