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NRCC drops 2/3 of White’s CD1 media buy
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is pulling a large amount of promised advertising for Darren White in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, two of Albuquerque’s three network TV stations have confirmed.
A spokesman for the White campaign, Stephen Schatz, said the campaign had expected to be behind in funding, but that it has enough resources to battle on through Nov. 4.
White’s opponent, Democrat Martin Heinrich, broke the news early this afternoon, saying in a news release that the NRCC had canceled two weeks of advertising. Heinrich campaign strategist Jason Burke called it “a vote of no confidence in Darren White.”
Burke told the New Mexico Independent later that his campaign staff discovered the cuts during routine calls to Albuquerque TV stations today. The staffers were told the NRCC had canceled its next TV ads for the next two weeks, which Burke estimated as worth some $500,000.
Representatives of stations KOB-TV (NBC) and KRQE-TV (CBS) confirmed the cancellations. The third network affiliate in Albuquerque, KOAT-TV (ABC) did not respond to the Independent’s request for information.
Jeff McCallister of KRQE said the estimated value of the advertising in CD1, assuming the cancellation extends to all three stations, is probably around $500,000.
Burke said it’s hard to understand the rationale behind the NRCC’s move, but said he assumes it reflects recent polls that show Democrats running strong in New Mexico. National and local polls have Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama running well ahead of Republican John McCain in Albuquerque and statewide, though The Albuquerque Journal reported this week that Heinrich is maintaining a slim lead over White — 43 percent to 41 percent, with 16 percent undecided.
“I just think they [NRCC] see how the race is going and probably want to spend that money somewhere else,” Burke said.
Schatz, the White campaign spokesman, said Republicans went into the 2008 campaign lagging behind Democrats in funding. “We always knew we were going to be outspent in this race, and we budgeted and planned appropriately,” he said in a statement.
“We are in a strong position financially, and have our television time booked through Election Day,” he added. “We are confident that we will have the resources necessary to win this race.”
In August, the NRCC reserved more than $730,000 in advertising in the CD1 race. Several calls to the NRCC were not returned, and the committee doesn’t say anything about cuts on its Web site today, though the committee has secured a loan of $8 million to aid Republicans through November.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already spent $866,746 in the 1st Congressional District, much of those expenditures on TV ads.
According to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, the DCCC leads the NRCC in cash on hand by a wide margin; the NRCC had just $14.2 million cash on hand as of Sept. 1. The DCCC had nearly $54 million at that time.
National political observer Stu Rothenberg reports this may be part of a trend:
The NRCC has scaled back advertising in Nevada’s 3rd district and New Mexico’s 1st district, and the campaign committee is going to have to make key decisions over the next few weeks about which candidates it will try to save and which it will allow to drown slowly.
NMI reporter Matthew Reichbach contributed to this report.