The race for the White House is sure to consume the most attention over the next 17 months--but campaign operatives are also gearing up for serious battle over control of Congress. And Democratic fundraisers and message strategists are looking to exploit voter anxieties over the future of Medicare in the party's bid to regain a majority in the House of Representatives.
House Majority PAC, a Democratic political action committee established in April to push back against big-money Republican campaign efforts, launched an early series of ads this week for what could be some of the most tightly contested local races next year. With a six-figure ad campaign running in eight districts, the group will hit Republicans for their support of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan. His proposal included a shift of Medicare payments into a voucher-based system enabling seniors to purchase insurance plans in a private market.
The ads are a sign that Democrats continue to see the vote on Ryan's budget as a winning issue going into 2012. The party went after Republicans in April when the House first approved the plan and then elevated the issue to center stage in New York's special election in May.
The round of ads, which will run on radio in all but one one of the eight districts, will target Republicans Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Joe Heck of Nevada, Steve King of Iowa, Scott Tipton of Colorado, Rick Crawford and Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Bobby Schilling of Illinois, and Chip Cravaack of Minnesota.
"You pay Medicare taxes on every dollar you earn, but the budget Scott Tipton voted for ends Medicare as we know it," the voice in an ad that will run in Colorado says. "Seniors would have to pay $6,400 more each year."
In 2010, a string of Republicans House victories swung the majority back to the GOP after the party lost control of the House in 2006. In 2012, Democrats need to net 24 seats to regain the majority.
To accomplish this, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi explained to the Washington Post, party strategists will focus on 60 House seats throughout the country that elected Republicans in 2010, but voted for Obama in 2008. The campaign to regain the chamber will be an uphill battle, at best.
"I feel comfortable about our ability to win it back," Pelosi said. "I have a sense of responsibility to win it back, a plan to do so, and a confidence that it is very much possible to do so."
The piece cited unnamed Democrats who said they predict that 2012 will be Pelosi's last chance to regain control of the chamber before the caucus votes her out of leadership.
(Photo of Pelosi: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)