National Super PACs Target 10th District Airwaves

October 3, 2014

By Danielle Nadler

Groups that don’t get a vote in the 10th District may be the very force that helps decide the victor in what’s becoming one of the nation’s most expensive midterm races.

Cash from super PACs and other outside groups is pouring into Northern Virginia, buying up ad time in broadcast, cable and digital markets. Ad buy tracking sources show outside groups will spend more than $7 million in advertising in the 10th District, with Republicans seeing the seat held for 32 years by Republican Frank Wolf as one worth defending, while Democrats are going on the offensive.

“This district has been trending toward Democrat for awhile now and this is an opportunity for us to make a play for this seat,” Matt Thornton, House Majority PAC communications director, said of the Democratic super PAC’s decision to reserve almost $780,000 in airtime on the race.

A surge of ads paid for and crafted by national political groups will hit the airwaves the week of Oct. 14 and continue through Election Day, Nov. 4.

Here’s a ballpark of what ad sources show Republican groups are spending in Northern Virginia: National Republican Congressional Committee has bought more than $2.7 million worth of broadcast and cable advertising time; Congressional Leadership Fund has reserved just less than $1 million worth; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce GOP will spend about $300,000.

On the Democratic side: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved almost $2.5 million in broadcast and cable time; the House Majority PAC has reserved $779,813; and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has reserved about $60,000 worth.

Before the run-off between Republican Barbara Comstock, a two-term Virginia delegate, and Democrat John Foust, a Fairfax County supervisor, super PACs haven’t paid much attention to the 10th District, which includes Loudoun, Frederick and Clarke counties as well as part of Fairfax and Prince William counties. Wolf has won most of his elections by landslide margins.

“With Frank Wolf’s retirement, the competitive nature of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District is in plain view,” said Emily Davis, deputy communications director for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to the GOP House leadership. “Barbara Comstock has already proven she’s a strong local leader and candidate who will build on Frank Wolf’s legacy and bring her own experience as a problem solver to Congress.”

From the Democratic House Majority PAC, Thornton agreed money spent in the Foust-Comstock race is money well spent. He cited a poll the super PAC released Tuesday that showed Foust trailing Comstock by two points, an improvement over polls from the summer and over a poll conducted by Republican firm The Tarrance Group released this week that shows a 12-point gap.

“I think it’s clear we’ve been seeing a lot of positive movement in Foust’s numbers, and I think it’s an indication that as people hear more about Comstock’s record and what she wants to do in Congress and they are moving away from her.”

While super PACs cannot give directly to candidates, Foust and Comstock have been busy leaning into party celebrities to raise finances for their campaign coffers.On Tuesday night, Mitt Romney headlined a Comstock fundraiser in McLean, while across town Nancy Pelosi was guest of honor at a Foust fundraiser.