The Iowa based American Future Fund (AFF) has reserved $800,000 for television ads in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley represents the District. Braley is being challenged by Ben Lange, a Republican from Independence, in this fall’s election.
AFF has already been active in the District. Last month the group aired a television ad that was critical of Braley’s support of the mosque at Ground Zero. AFF has already launched radio ads, placed thousands of phone calls, and sent mailers to residents of the District about Braley’s liberal record. AFF told TheIowaRepublican.com that it estimates that it will spend $1 million in Iowa’s 1st District this fall.
Braley has been highly critical of AFF’s actions saying that their advertisements are part of a smear campaign against him. He has also called AFF a “shadowy special interest” group. Braley, however, didn’t have a problem when multiple special interest groups spent money to help him win his congressional seat in 2006. The Service Employees International Union, NARAL, and MoveOn.org aided Braley in his 2006 race.
Nick Ryan, the founder of the American Future Fund, told TheIowaRepublican.com, “Bruce Braley is one of Nancy Pelosi’s closest allies in Congress, voting with her 98 percent of the time, and serving as the Vice Chair of the Democrats’ re-election debacle.”
“Braley is the poster child of failed liberal policies– leading the charge on new government entitlement programs, enacting policies that take away our freedom, and burdening future generations with unsustainable debt. His values are clearly out of step with Eastern Iowa,” Ryan added.
AFF has received a lot of media attention in Iowa for its television ad against Braley, but the group isn’t focused on just one eastern Iowa congressional race in its home state. A couple weeks ago, AFF launched a $4 million television campaign that encompasses 14 congressional seats in 13 different states. Their activity in Iowa’s 1st District now brings that total to 15 seats in 14 states.
AFF is targeting members of Congress who vote with Nancy Pelosi more that 87 percent of the time. It is also being critical of these incumbent members of Congress for voting for government-run healthcare, bailouts, and the various stimulus packages.
AFF’s presence in the 1st District is more than significant. Their $1 million budget targeting Braley means that they will likely spend more than Lange, and could even spend more money than Braley does this fall. According to FEC documents filed in July, Braley had $632,385.48 available for his campaign to use this fall. That’s plenty of money to campaign against his Republican opponent, but not enough to match what AFF is doing across the district.
Braley is also unlikely to receive any support from the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, despite being one of the Vice Chairs of the group. Pelosi and the Democrats are already scrambling to save their majority and have been spending money like crazy to protect embattled incumbents like Leonard Boswell in Iowa. Never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that Braley would have been targeted like this.
Making the situation worse for Braley is that Democrat Governor Chet Culver is trailing Terry Branstad by 19 points, and Roxanne Conlin, the Democrat challenging Senator Chuck Grassley, trails by 31 points. With no help from the top of the ticket and AFF about to unload $1 million in ads on him, Braley could quickly find himself alongside other House Democrats who are on the endangered species list.
Lange is not well known across the district and doesn’t have the resources available to him that Braley has. However, Lange’s task in beating Braley just got easier. Lange now just needs to present himself as the alternative to Braley in the District. With 2010 looking to be a strong year for Republicans and the top of the ticket Democrats getting trounced by their Republican opponents, it’s not inconceivable that Lange might have the ability to upset Braley.
AFF’s isn’t the only conservative organization spending money across the county. The Politico reported that conservative third-party organizations have already paid for $23.6 million in ads, while Democratic groups had not even spent $5 million. Speaker Pelosi was quoted by the Politico saying that she is urging groups like MoveOn.org, labor unions, NARAL and EMILY’s List to do more.
Braley has never been in the situation he finds himself in today. In 2006, Braley won by a comfortable margin, and his 2008 opponent didn’t have the financial resources to do much at all. It is likely that Braley thought 2010 was going to be another cakewalk. Now, Braley is going to find himself being outspent by a third party group.
Time might be Pelosi and Braley’s biggest enemy. Democrats are already in a defensive position across the country. With little time to raise money and the DCCC already committed in races across the county, Braley could be in jeopardy of losing his seat. Never before have so many races been in play just five weeks before an election. With these conservative groups going on the offensive, Republicans could be poised to pick up a record number of seats this fall.
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