Republicans just booked $52 million in TV time — but they left off a key district in North Carolina

Republicans just booked $52 million in TV time — but they left off a key district in North Carolina

The NRCC announced its first batch of fall TV ad reservations on Wednesday, making it the last of the "big four" outside groups that spend by far the most on House races to do so. We've added the bookings, which total $52 million across 28 different media markets, to our tracker, which also includes reservations from the committee's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, as well as their Democratic counterparts: the DCCC and the House Majority PAC.

Unusually, the NRCC also listed the specific districts it says these reservations will be used for; typically, only media markets are included, and we're left to figure out which districts are the likely targets. The listed districts differ very little from our previous guesses for the same markets booked by the other three groups, though, and reservations such as these can be used for any applicable races, regardless of whether they're mentioned in a June press release.

Some may be aspirational. For instance, the addition of the Democratic-held 1st and 3rd Districts in New Mexico alongside the vulnerable, GOP-held 2nd, might fall into that category, since Republicans lack notable challengers in both. (All three are covered by the Albuquerque market.) But of course, an election that turns into a wave can bring along all sorts of flotsam.

There is, however, one absence that is telling. Following far-right extremist Sandy Smith's win in the GOP primary for North Carolina's open 1st District last month, the NRCC has pointedly refused to acknowledge her, despite the fact that Republicans would very much like to flip this potentially vulnerable Democratic seat. The reason for this silence? It’s almost certainly not because of Smith's politics but rather because two of her ex-husbands have accused her of physical abuse.

That cold shoulder has now extended further, since the committee reserved TV time in the Raleigh market, which makes up more than half of the 1st District, but only listed the swingy 13th District as the reason for the booking. The NRCC sent out a press release on Thursday outlining its latest nationwide target list and did include the 1st, but money, it hardly needs saying, speaks louder than words. Again, Republicans could always change their minds, but it would have cost them nothing to simply add "(NC01)" to their reservations announcement. The fact that they didn't is noteworthy.

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