Outside money has been a major factor in a lot of congressional campaigns this year.
The race between Democratic Rep. Mark Critz and Republican challenger Keith Rothfus in Pennsylvania has attracted more outside money to date than any other contest.
The National Republican Congressional Committee so far has made Critz, who defeated fellow Rep. Jason Altmire in the Democratic primary, its No. 1 target, spending almost $1 million against him, according to a Bloomberg News computer analysis of Federal Election Commission data through Sept. 25. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $242,714 against Rothfus, a lawyer who polled 49 percent of the vote in 2010 against Altmire.
It’s a district where Republicans “feel they have the best chance of upsetting a sitting congressman,” said Jerry Shuster, a professor of political communication and presidential rhetoric at the University of Pittsburgh. “They have just inundated television. They’ll run back-to-back ads.”
The NRCC has run 915 spots, while the DCCC has run 281, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks ad spending. All of those ads were negative.
“This is a strongly Republican seat, and Mark Critz does not share the same values as hardworking families in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Nathaniel Sillin, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The Critz-Rothfus race has also attracted the most outside money, $3.2 million, including both parties and super-political action committees House Majority PAC, which is pro-Democratic, and YG Action Fund, backing Republicans.
The Democrats’ top target was Brian Bilbray of California, hit with $1.1 million in expenditures. He is the only senior member among the five biggest Democratic targets. The other four are freshmen: Bobby Schilling of Illinois, Jeff Denham of California, Chris Gibson of New York and Francisco Canseco of Texas.
After Critz, the NRCC has spent the most money against Bilbray’s Democratic challenger, Scott Peters; Schilling opponent Cheri Bustos; and two veteran incumbents, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah.
“House Republicans are on defense and trying to save their sinking Tea Party majority,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the DCCC. “Every day that goes by, Republicans are forced spend more and more of their money defending their indefensible incumbent Republicans.”