Kratovil Now Dem Committee’s $1million Man With New Spending

October 20, 2010

By Lou Peck
Contributing Editor, Cecil Times/CongressDaily

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has informed the Federal Election Commission that it has spent another $300,000 on advertising against Republican Andy Harris, the GOP challenger to Democratic incumbent Frank Kratovil in Maryland’s 1st District. With that latest expenditure, the DCCC has put in more than $1.1 million to boost Kratovil’s re-election bid.

According to FEC figures compiled by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, Maryland’s 1st District congressional race is now one of just 11 districts nationwide in which the DCCC has invested in excess of $1 million in this year’s campaign.

By comparison, the DCCC’s counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, has reported spending just over $470,000 so far on efforts to help Harris by taking out ads attacking Kratovil.

The 1st District covers the entire Eastern Shore and parts of Harford, Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties, and most political advertising aimed at the district is being aired on Baltimore TV stations. Over-the-air buys in Salisbury on the lower Shore are also coming into play, along with local cable TV systems.

While there are a couple of fellow Marylanders high up in his party leadership – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-5) and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-8) – the amount of money being spent on Kratovil has a lot less to do with home-state loyalty than it does with political calculation.

Hoyer, Van Hollen and other Democratic leaders are in an uphill battle to keep the House from falling into Republican control in the Nov. 2 election, and Kratovil’s prospects for winning a second term appear to have improved markedly in recent weeks — even though the race is still considered a tossup by most analysts.

Elected by less than 3,000 votes over Harris in 2008, Kratovil was regarded as one of the most vulnerable House incumbents in the country at the beginning of this year’s campaign in a district that voted heavily for Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008.

But Kratovil – who has bucked his party’s leadership on several major issues, notably health care reform – is now the beneficiary of national party largesse, due to what Democratic strategists apparently see as his increasing chances to hang on to his seat. At the same time, the DCCC in recent weeks has turned off the money spigot for several other incumbents who, while adhering more to the party line on issues, are seen as having diminishing re-election prospects.

The latest DCCC’s move was the second major financial boost for Kratovil this week: Earlier, a “super PAC” known as America’s Families First Action Fund – funded largely by several wealthy Democrats around the country along with the International Association of Firefighters – kicked in $400,000 for anti-Harris ads. Such super PACs have multiplied since a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year opened the way for unlimited spending on campaigns by corporations and labor unions.

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