Calaveras County’s congressman is expected to be the target of hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative advertising paid for by the son of a billionaire investor loathed by many conservatives.
Gold River Republican Dan Lungren, who has represented the county in Washington, D.C. since his election in 2004, is one of several Republicans targets of a “super” political action committee called Friends of Democracy.
The group stated this week it will aim up to a $8 million combined in television ads and direct mailings against GOP candidates this fall.
The group is primarily funded by Jonathan Soros, the son of George Soros, who gained great notoriety when he gave almost $23.6 million to groups seeking to unseat President George W. Bush in 2004. Its stated objectives include removing members of Congress who oppose lobbying reforms and greater campaign disclosure.
Representatives of the super PAC told the Associated Press Saturday that they will go after Democrats as well, but named GOP targets at this time, including Lungren, Charlie Bass (N.H.) and Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), adding they will spend cash on attack ads against 10 to 15 incumbents in all.
Friends of Democracy co-founder and Public Campaign Action Fund Executive Director David Donnelly said in an email Tuesday the group is particularly concerned by two Lungren votes against the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, chief among several votes against increased disclosure and public campaign financing.
“At a time when everyday Americans feel that Washington doesn’t work for them, Rep. Lungren’s voting record is for more money in elections, more secrecy in elections, and more power for special interests,” Donnelly said. “That’s not what will rebuild trust in Congress.”
A message left Tuesday with the Lungren campaign was not been returned by press time.
The junior Soros told the Washington Post this week that the irony is not lost on him that the PAC is using the very tool — unlimited contributions from donors who can remain anonymous — it seeks to eliminate through its efforts. Friends of Democracy does intend to voluntarily disclose its donors, the AP reported.
Lungren is locked in a rematch of his 2010 race against Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera. This time around, Calaveras County voters, redistricted to California’s 4th District, will not weigh in on the contest, which being held in a district much more compact, suburban and even in registration numbers than their matchup two years earlier.
Bera stands to benefit from the Friends’ spending, whereas PAC attack ads did a number on him in 2010. In March 2012, Bera went on National Public Radio’s “This American Life” to discuss $682,000 in negative TV ads aired in the Sacramento market in the final weeks before Election Day.
The spending by the American Crossroads PAC, fronted by former Bush adviser Karl Rove, helped turn the tide of momentum that had Bera moving from 30 percentage points down in polls to within 8 percent, back to a 14-point gap a week after the ads began to air, the Democrat said.
Lungren won at the ballot box by a margin of less than 7 percent in 2010. Last month’s primary resulted in a 13-point edge for Lungren but the Bera camp is hoping unusually low turnout in that race means it will not be a good indicator of the Nov. 6 general election outcome.
Democrats nationwide are hopeful that redistricting that favored their party in California will provide a major boost in efforts to retake the majority of U.S. House seats in the 2012 election.