There are three U.S. House races in the Northwest this year which bear serious watching, one in each of the three states. And now the national Democratic House organization - the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - is dumping $2.6 million into those three seats.
There will be (and to a small extent have been) contributions from the Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee; but the NRCC has been badly outraised (the Ds had $55 million at end of June, and the Rs $8.5 million), and has to spread its money more thinly because so many Republican incumbent nationally are threatened this year.
Of the three key Northwest seats, one is open, the Oregon 5th, now held by Democrat Darlene Hooley. A few months back Republicans were looking at this district, where the party balance is close, as a realistic pickup; now, with a damaged nominee in Mike Erickson, the odds are favoring Democrat Kurt Schrader, a state senator who already has a solid base in the district. Erickson is, however, well ahead in money - his receipts are at $1.9 million - because he can and does self-fund his campaign ($1.6 million of those receipts are from himself). Schrader has raised a little over a half million, a respectable but far smaller amount, raising some worry about being swamped by Erickson's money, which he showed in his 2006 race for this seat he's willing to spend freely.
Enter the DCCC, which said July 11 it is tossing in (at least at present) $1.2 million for media buys, presumably mostly TV. That, with Schrader's own money, would level the field. (The buy hasn't actually happened yet and could be amended, though probably it would adjust downward mostly if Schrader wound up raising a lot more money quickly, so he needed less.)
The dynamic is a little different in the other two races: There, the national Democrats (they announced today) are feeding Democratic challengers who actually have been outraising Republican incumbents (which isn't something you saw a lot of before this year, and still don't see in many places).
In the Washington 8th District, the DCCC is marking $949,000 for Democrat Darcy Burner, running her second race against Republican incumbent Dave Reichert, and this time outraising him already. This donation gives her a clear, marked financial advantage in the race.
And in the Idaho 1st, where Republican Bill Sali's financial situation has been surprisingly bad (weak fundraising, slow debt payoff, still-high debt from the last campaign, difficulty getting proper reporting done), the national Democrats weighed in too. Democrat Walt Minnick has had solid fundraising (he ended the last quarter nearly doubling Sali's cash of hand, and Sali's debt amounted to about half of the cash on him). To that, the DCCC has added $349,000 for media, which at the moment would mean that Minnick has an unencumbered $800,000 or so, while Sali has an unencumbered (debt-free) $125,000 or so. It makes for a hell of a disparity.