Start your engines: GOP makes first 2014 ad buys against Democratic House members



(Updated: 2:25 p.m.)

The National Republican Congressional Committee is making its first ad buy of the 2014 season with a blitz against seven vulnerable House Democrats.

Sunlight's Ad Hawk, which allows mobile phone users identify the sources of political advertising, picked up new spots aimed at the incumbents overnight. The early ads underscore the already-intensifying battle for the House, which President Barack Obama has vowed to put back in Democratic control. The president is travelling to the West Coast today for a series of fundraisers benefiting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Read the details on Political Party Time.

Accused by the NRCC ads of out of touch and fiscally irresponsible:  

  • Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, a perennial GOP target who nonetheless has managed seven terms in a strongly Republican state. The Cook Political Report says his district leans Democrat.
  • Rep. Bill Owens of New York, who shocked the political world by winning a 2009 special election in an upstate district that the GOP had owned for more than a century. He has since won two more elections, albeit narrowly last year. Cook rating: Likely Democrat.
  • Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida, who defeated tea party favorite Allen West in the nation's most expensive House race last year. Cook rating: Toss Up.
  • Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, a 12-term veteran who serves as his party's top-ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee. Cook ranking: Likely Democrat.
  • Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, who narrowly eked out in a win in the last House race to be called in 2012, despite a Republican redistricting plan designed to gut his Democratic support. Cook rating: Lean Democrat.
  • Rep. John Barrow of Georgia another veteran who has survived multiple GOP attempts to oust him.. Cook rating: Lean Democrat.
  • Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona, who succeeded his former boss (and fellow shooting victim), Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after she resigned to focus her energy on recovering from an assassination attempt. Barber's last election was so close that it also took days to call. Cook rating: Toss Up.

The NRCC ads follow two templates: One attacks the target for "voting against balancing the budget" and backing first class air fare for members of Congress; the other script cites the lawmakers' support for President Obama's health care plan. Daniel Scarpinato of the NRCC said the charge of backing luxury travel for members of Congress is based on the lawmakers' votes against Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, which included a provision requiring members of Congress to fly coach. Scarpinato said committee is spending $40,000 on the ads, which began airing today and are scheduled to run through next week. The ads against Matheson, Owens and Murphy are running online only; the others will be seen on local TV.