Dems reserve $33M in bid to hold Senate

Senate Democrats’ campaign arm is reserving $33 million in advertisements this fall, with the bulk of its resources devoted to protecting the party’s quartet of embattled incumbents in the hopes of keeping their tenuous hold on the majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is plowing most of its initial reservation money into backing Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. In the 50-50 Senate, just one Republican net gain would flip Senate control to the GOP next year, which makes each race critical.

And because the DSCC’s first job is to protect incumbents — which coincidentally is also the most straightforward path to retaining Senate control — the organization is also reserving ad slots in New Hampshire, which the Democratic Senate Majority PAC and Republican Senate Leadership Fund left off their initial reservation list. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) is running for reelection, and though her odds seem more favorable since GOP Gov. Chris Sununu declined to challenge her, Senate Democrats aren’t taking any chances.

The DSCC is reserving $8.4 million in Nevada, $7.5 million in Arizona, $7 million in Georgia and $4 million in New Hampshire, according to a DSCC aide. The party is also going on offense in two states, reserving $3 million in Pennsylvania, which is an open seat due to the retirement of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, and $3 million in Wisconsin, where GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is running for reelection.

The initial reservations are just the first chess move by Senate Democrats and, like other groups, the DSCC is likely to add to and modify its ad campaigns as the Senate map develops. Democrats are closely watching states like Ohio and Florida to see if they become competitive, while Republicans are eyeing Colorado and Washington state.

But as the rest of the political landscape shapes up ahead of the midterms, the DSCC is reserving now to “communicate on television in the most effective way, drive the contrast between our strong Democratic candidates and the GOP’s weak nominees, and help ensure Democrats protect and expand our Senate majority,” said Christie Roberts, the DSCC’s executive director.

“The GOP’s roster of Senate candidates is defined by deep flaws, support for a damaging policy agenda and disqualifying personal vulnerabilities — and when general election voters learn about these Republicans they’ll see why they have no place in the U.S. Senate,” Roberts added.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has yet to place its initial reservations, though it is likely to do so in May, according to a person familiar with the issue. Both the DSCC and NRSC’s spending will probably be dwarfed by super PACs: The Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund placed $141 million in ads and the Chuck Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC reserved spots totaling $106 million earlier this month.

Political groups typically reserve as early as they can in the election cycle to preserve better rates for the fall before a crush of competitive gubernatorial and House races sucks up all the ad time. Candidates themselves receive better rates than outside groups.

And more spending is certainly coming: The 2020 election was the most expensive ever.