A lot of money from two conservative political action committees will be spent in the 17th Congressional District between Labor Day and the November midterms.
Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus faces Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb in the new district, which the Cook Political Report lists as a race that leans Democratic.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, announced this spring that it plans to put $10 million into 30 house races across the country, including the Rothfus race. The PAC also has a field office for the 17th District, which is one of 31 field offices it set up for the midterms. The America First Action Super PAC, which supports President Trump, has the district on a list of 12 competitive races in the 2018 midterms, and plans to pour $726,000 into the race.
“So long as they’re still involved in the race and on the airwaves, it means they still believe the race is winnable,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. He studies House races, and acknowledged there are rumblings that the party could divert funds to other races.
A recent poll showed Lamb, who pulled off a surprising win in a special election this past spring, with a comfortable lead over Rothfus.
“It’s a question of whether Republicans feel like they can get this race back to even or close to even,” said Kondik.
On the Democratic side, Rothfus's opponent Conor Lamb was quickly named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)'s program of candidates the group wants to protect in the midterms this fall, after his election this spring.
Kondik pointed out that regardless of funding, the district “is more of a must win for Democrats than Republicans when you just look at the overall House picture.” he said. “But it’s an important seat nonetheless.”
Update: The Congressional Leadership Fund announced in August it was expanding its list of field offices from 31 to 40 in Congressional districts across the country.