The Republican Party moved quickly today to deny a New York Times report that the GOP is pulling out of embattled Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine's re-election bid to focus on Senate races in which it faces better odds of winning, like those in Missouri, Tennessee, and possibly Virginia.
"The evidence of our commitment [to DeWine] is that we're putting our money where our mouth is," Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said on a call with reporters this morning. "No state will receive more resources from the RNC than Ohio."
Saying he'd "never done this in many years of campaigning," Mehlman disclosed the general contours of the RNC financial plan in DeWine's re-election, pledging to spend "millions more on turnout and millions more on message" in the next three weeks.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee also refuted the Times account, with spokesman Dan Ronayne calling it "a lot of hot air" in an interview.
Citing anonymous party officials, the Times reported that the decision to "effectively write off" DeWine's re-election came after internal party polls found him trailing Democratic challenger Rep. Sherrod Brown. The story said the move was part of a broader GOP strategy to focus resources on a few tight races that would give the GOP its best shot at keeping control of the Senate.
Two respected polls last week showed DeWine trailing his opponent by 6 to 14 percentage points, while a third, by the University of Akron, found the contest to be in a dead heat, with roughly 14 percent of voters undecided.
"We've had no indication that anybody is pulling out of our campaign," says DeWine spokesman Brian Seitchik, who noted that the campaign is legally barred from coordinating with the national party on how to spend money. "The public polls show … that this will be a very close race, which is what we've been saying for months."
The RNC and NRSC have so far spent around $4.5 million on DeWine's behalf, and DeWine has a $7.8 million to $3.7 million fundraising advantage, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, filed in June. It's unclear how much has been raisedor spentsince then. The NRSC has not reserved ad time in Ohio TV markets for DeWine in the final weeks before Election Day, as it has done in other states, but says it has not ruled out buying more ad time. The committee currently has a DeWine ad on the air.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee latched on to the Times report as evidence that the GOP is in trouble.
"The GOP's game plan for holding the Senate was to focus exclusively on Tennessee, Missouri, and Ohio," the DSCC said in a memo to reporters. "Over the last few weeks, it has become apparent that the Republicans are being forced to change this 'firewall' strategy and are beginning to 'cut and run' from Ohio."