GOP reaches deeper into Biden-land with new spending in solid-blue districts

GOP reaches deeper into Biden-land with new spending in solid-blue districts

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Republicans are pouring cash into House districts that voted for President Biden by as much as 20 points, targeting under-the-radar battlegrounds amid growing signs of a red wave.

Why it matters: Infusions of funding by both parties into these solidly blue seats signal the potential for a Republican landslide, further complicating the Democratic calculus on which races to defend.

Context: These districts are bluer than Washington state, which backed Biden by 19 points in 2020.

Driving the news: The National Republican Congressional Committee is making three six-figure investments in districts that went for Biden by 20 points in 2020, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

California’s 26th: Rep. Julia Brownley (D) is sounding the alarm to colleagues about her surprisingly competitive race against Republican Matt Jacobs as Republicans make inroads in other West Coast blue states.New York’s 25th: Rep. Joe Morelle (D) faces former Rochester police chief La’Ron Singletary — who garnered headlines in 2020 when he was fired after the death of a man in police custody — as crime has emerged as a top issue up and down the ballot in New York.Pennsylvania’s 12th: Progressive Democrat Summer Lee is running in this Pittsburgh-based district to replace Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) — against a Republican local legislator also named Mike Doyle.The other side: Democrats have been investing in these races as well amid signs of their competitiveness.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Tommy Garcia told Axios. “The DCCC has already invested in these seats that are critical to maintaining the majority.””The NRCC and [chairperson] Tom Emmer can chase windmills all day long while their endangered incumbents struggle — but the DCCC along with outside spenders will make sure Matt Jacobs, La’Ron Singletary, and Mike Doyle never see the halls of Congress.”The big picture: Investments in these races go beyond just the party committees.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has transferred $2,000 to Morelle, as has Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has given $5,000 to Singletary.Pelosi has also given $2,000 to Summer Lee.The intrigue: The name confusion in Pennsylvania’s 12th has led at least some Democratic voters to mistakenly vote by mail against Lee, according to her campaign manager Abigail Gardner.

“It’s come up, but it’s not every voter,” Gardner told Axios. “It’s a lot of older folks who are just used to voting for [Rep. Doyle] and think maybe he switched parties.” She said that it was more of an issue when mail-in ballots were first sent out.“Overwhelmingly our conversations are people who thought Summer was running unopposed,” she added.Lee’s campaign has been working hard to clear up the confusion, running ads and sending texts differentiating between the two Doyles. A pro-Lee ad from Justice Democrats also focuses on the name confusion.Yes, but: The name confusion is not the only factor at play in the race.

Lee’s left-wing politics have made her a foil for Republicans elsewhere in the state. In the neighboring 17th District, Republicans are running an ad tying Democrat Chris Deluzio to Lee and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).And Rep. Doyle, who endorsed Lee’s more moderate rival over her in the Democratic primary, said during a press conference to address the name confusion, “I support all the Democrats running on the ticket,” without naming Lee specifically.Go deeper: Other unlikely battlegrounds are suddenly popping up on both parties’ radar screens. House Majority PAC spent a whopping $2.3 million this week to help Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a moderate representing a district Biden carried by 12 points.

VoteVets, another big-spending Democratic outside group, spent $2 million this week boosting Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s (D-N.J.) standing. Sherrill, whose north Jersey district backed Biden by 17 points, isn’t even on the Cook Political Report’s list of potentially vulnerable lawmakers.Both parties are now pouring millions into DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney’s Hudson Valley district (Biden +10), as Republicans bet big for a powerful symbolic victory.Reality check: Even as some of these deep-blue districts are looking surprisingly competitive, Democrats are still holding their own in some traditional battleground districts. A series of four NYT/Siena House race polls — in Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania swing seats — still show all four Democratic candidates ahead or tied.

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