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Morning Jay: NRSC Backs O'Donnell, House Polls, Gene Taylor Strikes Again, and More!

6:30 AM, Sep 16, 2010 • By JAY COST
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1. NRSC To Back O’Donnell?  That was the story yesterday morning. So says NRSC chairman John Cornyn:

Let there be no mistake: The National Republican Senatorial Committee – and I personally as the committee’s chairman – strongly stand by all of our Republican nominees, including Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.

I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support. This support includes a check for $42,000 – the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees – which the NRSC will send to her campaign today.

So, is the NRSC “all in?”  Not necessarily.  There are four ways that party committees can contribute to candidates.  The first is what Cornyn has offered, a direct contribution, i.e. a cash transfer from the NRSC to the O’Donnell campaign.

The second is what’s known as a “coordinated expenditure,” wherein the party committee and the candidate split the cost for a campaign item.  The Federal Elections Comission sets limits on how much the party can give a Senate candidate, and that depends on the state's population. (According to my back of the envelope calculations, it works out to be about $87,000 for a candidate from Delaware.)

The third is a transfer to the state party committee, which would retain the discretion over how the money would be spent, but the candidate would presumably benefit indirectly.  This is usually more the domain of the Republican National Committee.

The fourth is an “independent expenditure.”  IEs are unlimited, but they carry the strict requirement that the candidate can have no input in how the money is spent.  That means the final decision on these sorts of expenditures would not even really be left up to Cornyn, who is knee-deep in candidate campaigns and is thus not actually “independent.”  These are where the big bucks come in, and the independent expenditure arm of the NRSC will be brutal in its calculations, but its brutality will be strictly data-based.  It’s not an issue of insurgent v. establishment.  If the independent expenditure arm of the NRSC thinks its marginal dollar will make the most difference in Delaware, that dollar will go to...where?  Delaware!

2. Independent Expenditures BeginCourtesy of Hotline OnCall, we have the list of the first districts where the DCCC and NRCC are putting their dollars. 

The DSCC is putting money into HI-1 (held by Republican Charles Djou), MI-1 (open, formerly held by Bart Stupak), and AL-2 (held by Democrat Bobby Bright). 

Meanwhile, the GOP is buying in 10 Democratic-held districts, AZ-1 (Ann Kirkpatrick), CA-11 (Jerry McNerney), FL-2 (Allen Boyd), IN-2 (Joe Donnelly), MS-01 (Travis Childers), TN-8 (open), TX-17 (Chet Edwards), VA-5 (Tom Perriello), and WI-7 (open).

Initial reaction: no surprises here.  It’s interesting that Joe Donnelly in IN-2 earned the largest buy from the NRCC, $135,000. I’ll keep you posted on notable ad buys in other districts as they are made known.

3. House Polls.  Yesterday, SurveyUSA released a poll of CA-20, a Central Valley district that includes Bakersfield and parts of Fresno.  The firm found three-term incumbent Democrat Jim Costa leading Republican challenger Andy Vidak by just two points, 48-46.  Vidak leads Costa among independents, 49-40, and there are plenty of them still undecided.  The district gave Barack Obama 60 percent of their vote in 2008, and John Kerry beat George W. Bush here, 51-48.  In a “wave” year, this is the kind of district you’ll see the Democrats struggling to hold.  Costa is currently underperforming Obama by 12 points; translate that nationwide, and it helps explain why the Democrats are in such danger of losing the House.

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