NRCC ad buy in Nevada attacks Marshall’s record as treasurer

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The National Republican Congressional Committee is up with the first independent expenditure ad buy of the Nevada Congressional District 2 special election slamming the Democrat, Kate Marshall, on her record as Nevada State Treasurer.

An NRCC official confirmed that the buy is over $225,000, and will run on both cable and broadcast television in the Reno market. The ad will go up on Friday and continue for two weeks.

Marshall has been campaigning on her record of managing the state’s economy as treasurer, and the NRCC ad goes after that, accusing Marshall of squandering the state’s money and presiding over the economy when it became one of the worst in the country.

The ad begins with video of Marshall saying, “I’ve taken the state through this fiscal crisis, steered it with a steady hand.”

“How did Democrat Kate Marshall do that?” asks an announcer. “Gambled away 50 million dollars of your money on Wall Street; increased office spending by 33 percent; Nevada’s economy became the worst in the nation.”

The spot concludes with a photo of President Barack Obama standing with his arm around Marshall.

“You can’t afford Democrat Kate Marshall in congress,” the announcer concludes.

The buy was made the day following Marshall going up with the first negative ad of the race, which attacked Republican Mark Amodei for voting for a tax increase during his time in the state senate. Amodei has repeatedly said there were mitigating circumstances surrounding that vote. As the Las Vegas Sun reported, Amodei’s defense was “that proposal helped kill an incredibly unpopular gross receipts tax.”

“Nevada’s economy is the worst in the nation thanks to Kate Marshall’s failed leadership as Nevada’s top financial officer,” said NRCC Spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton in a statement accompanying the ad. “Kate Marshall is directly responsible for losing $50 million of taxpayer money on a preventable Wall Street gamble and will only be an echo chamber for Harry Reid’s job-killing agenda if elected to Congress.”

Reno is the second largest market in the state of Nevada, but Nevada-based Republican strategist Robert Uithoven said it’s still a “significant buy.” Some Democrats have suggested that the size of the buy, especially coming so soon after Marshall’s negative ad, indicates that the NRCC is concerned about Amodei’s ability to fundraise on his own.

The second quarter financial reports released earlier this month showed that Marshall had raised significantly more money than Amodei.

“Mr. Amodei appears to be running scared from his failed record of sponsoring a billion dollar, job killing tax increase while voting to give himself a pay raise on the taxpayers’ dime,” said Marshall’s Communications Director James Hallinan. “Unfortunately for him, Nevada voters won’t be fooled by the national Republicans’ desperate attempt to distract from his self-admitted record on raising taxes. In stark contrast, Kate Marshall’s prudent financial management has made, and saved, millions of dollars for Nevada taxpayers and helped attract jobs to the state at a time when Nevadans need them the most.”

Uithoven said that it’s about playing the expectations game. It’s a “good investment for the NRCC,” he said, citing the fact that Republicans have held the seat ever since its inception.

“They want to be able to claim a victory, especially right after the debate taking place in Washington on the debt ceiling,” said Uithoven of the Republicans. Moreover, he said, they could “point to some momentum heading into 2012.”

That could also help them with fundraising from national donors, most of whom, Uithoven pointed out, probably do not know the history of the seat and do not realize that it’s been a Republican seat all along.

The buy also puts the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on the spot, and forces them to decide whether or not they want to make an investment into a district in which a Democrat has never won.

Marshall is certainly the underdog in the race, and “if the DCCC comes in heavy and she ends up losing,” Uithoven said, it “looks like even more of a loss for them.” As a result, it is possible they opt not to make a play for the seat. But after the NRCC ad, Uithoven said, “they’ll be under pressure to do so,” especially in Nevada, which is “one of the few swing states out there that’s truly up for grabs in 2012.”

Republicans have the most to lose in this race, however, if Amodei fails to pull out a win. “They can’t afford to lose this seat,” said Uithoven, and doing so would result in a big “momentum shift” heading into 2012. Moreover, Republicans are coming off the loss of NY-26, an overwhelmingly Republican district that turned Democrat after a special election in May. The NRCC in particular was criticized for not getting into the race until it was too late to salvage it.

The NRCC ad comes less than a month before early voting in the election begins. Election day is September 15.

Watch the ad here: