House Party Committees Top List of Outside Spenders

Senate Democrats spend third most last week.

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Outside groups have ramped up their spending on in the 2010 elections, with much of that money going toward independent expenditures--political communications made in support of or against specific candidates, without coordination with those candidates or their opponents. Meanwhile, national party spending on independent expenditures has remained below its 2006 rates. But national party committees have not been slacking; indeed, they have spent increasingly aggressively in recent weeks to promote their candidates. All four national congressional party committees continue to increase their spending week by week. 

Last week's top 10 spenders on independent expenditures were:

1. National Republican Congressional Committee ($11,945,387) 

The Republican House committee continues to up the ante in the 2010 elections, and continues to both increase its spending and its number of targeted races. Last week, the group maintained its top-spending spot, surging to nearly $12 million in weekly independent expenditures. This total, more than $3.5 million more than the committee had spent the week prior, went toward survey research and advertising opposing 64 Democratic candidates. Targeted Democrats included Hawaii House candidate Colleen Hanabusa, Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, and South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

2. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($9,657,240) 

The Democratic House committee spent $2.3 million less than its Republican counterpart last week and also spread the money less widely, opposing 57 Republican candidates, including Hawaii Rep. Charles Djou and Ohio House candidate James Renacci, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. John Boccieri. Though this represents an increase of $1.5 million more than the committee had spent the previous week, and 11 more candidates, the committee has been whittling down its list of targeted races. In the last week the committee has pulled ads in New Mexico and Florida as it has worked to determine which House seats it can save with many of its candidates struggling.

3. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($5,191,754)

Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent over $400,000 more than it had in the previous week, with $5.2 million disbursed for TV, radio, and online ads targeting nine Republican senatorial candidates. The committee spent the greatest amount opposing Rep. Mark Kirk in Illinois, with $871,035 going toward a TV ad targeting the Republican representative, who is opposing Democrat Alexander Giannoulias for that state's open Senate seat. The other two biggest targets for the committee were Colorado's Ken Buck, against whom the group spent nearly $860,000, and West Virginia's John Raese, against whom the group spent nearly $800,000.

4. American Crossroads ($4,821,279)

The high-profile conservative 527 committee last week announced that it would team up with three other conservative organizations, including its nonprofit affiliate Crossroads GPS (No. 7, below) and the American Action Network (No. 8, below) to spend up to $50 million opposing Democratic House candidates nationwide. Part of that push began last week, with American Crossroads running TV and radio ads against eight Democratic House candidates. Yet even while this surge in House spending took place, Senate candidates remained central to American Crossroads' efforts. The group opposed eight Democratic Senate candidates last week and promoted three Republicans. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, one of Crossroads' most expensive targets for the 2010 cycle, was again the group's top target, with nearly $1 million in mailings and TV ads opposing him last week.

5. Americans for Tax Reform ($2,705,709)

Founded by longtime conservative stalwart Grover Norquist in 1985, Americans for Tax Reform pushes for "simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower" taxes. The group asks politicians to sign its Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising to vote against "any and all efforts to increase taxes." Its most expensive target last week was Michigan Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, against whom the group ran a $523,000 TV advertisement. Peters' opponent, Republican Rocky Raczkowski, is one of the 205 House candidates who has signed the pledge. Aside from advertisements and mailings against 17 Democratic House candidates, the group also last week targeted one Senate candidate: Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak