WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are pumping more money into competitive House races to protect four incumbents in Minnesota, Illinois and New York while cutting back spending on once-promising takeover opportunities in California, Pennsylvania and Michigan that have diminished four weeks to midterm elections.
The party also is increasing its spending on two Republican-held seats in Nebraska and Iowa that represent some of the Democrats' best chances to win on GOP turf, a campaign official said Monday.
Republicans are expected to pad their majority on Nov. 4 as President Barack Obama's low approval ratings in the sixth year of his tenure remain a drag on Democrats who are trying to mitigate the losses. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has outpaced its GOP counterpart in fundraising, and the party has increased its advertising spending $12.5 million on top of its initial $43.5 million ad buy earlier this year.
House Republicans currently hold 233 seats to 199 for the Democrats with three vacancies.
The shift in spending underscores the challenges for Democrats, who early on set their sights on GOP incumbents in California, New York and Illinois as well as open seats in Pennsylvania and Michigan but have been forced to bail in a number of races.
Democrats hope to knock out eight-term Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, who is struggling to recover from comments he made during last year's government shutdown about keeping his salary. Democrats also are trying to capture an open seat in Iowa, where former state Sen. Staci Appel faces David Young, who has worked as Republican Sen. Charles Grassley's chief of staff.
Democrats are spending money to protect Illinois Reps. Bill Enyart and Bill Foster, Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan and first-term New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is in a rematch with Nan Hayworth in a district where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending money.
Democrats had targeted California Republican Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao, hoping immigration would be a decisive issue to help Democratic challengers, but the party has scaled back spending in their districts. Democrats have steered money away from an open seat in upstate New York that has been held by Democrat Bill Owens for three terms as well as an open seat in Pennsylvania held by Republican Jim Gerlach.
GOP candidate Ryan Costello is the front-runner in the northeast Pennsylvania district. Democrats also have cut spending in two Michigan open seats and an Iowa district where six-term Rep. Steve King is favored to win.
"In the face of millions of dollars from outside Republican groups aggressively pouring into our races, House Democrats are fortifying our vulnerable incumbents and focusing in on top-tier competitive races," said Emily Bittner, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.