National GOP to spend $280K on final TV push to oust Cicilline

• Update: DCCC counters with $315K TV buy (Oct. 26)

Republicans have said for weeks they don’t believe the hype that Democratic Congressman David Cicilline is pulling away from GOP challenger Brendan Doherty. Now they’re putting their money where their mouths are.

The National Republican Congressional Committee confirmed Friday it will spend $280,000 on a final round of television commercials to air during the closing week of Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District race, enough to buy 1,000 gross rating points. The ads will air Oct. 30 to Nov. 6.

“We think Brendan Doherty is in a very strong position, and this expenditure demonstrates our financial commitment to holding David Cicilline accountable for his record, which is wrong for Rhode Island,” NRCC spokesman Nat Sillin told on Friday.

The national GOP’s decision to go up in the 1st District during the homestretch shows Doherty won’t suffer the same fate as John Loughlin, who lost to Cicilline in 2010 by only six points but never received significant support from the NRCC.

“This shows that we still think it’s a priority, because there’s a lot of other places we could be using this money,” Sillin said. The committee’s independent expenditure unit hasn’t decided yet what the advertisement will look like, he said.

Both party committees are investing significant resources in the 1st District, an unlikely situation in one of the nation’s most heavily Democratic districts that’s largely due to the fallout from Cicilline’s devastating 2010 comments about Providence’s finances. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is helping the Cicilline campaign pay for some of its final ads, as well, as the incumbent faces a cash shortage.

Television is only part of Republicans’ closing strategy. The state party has also been sending mailers to voters that attack the incumbent for his stewardship of Providence and burnish Doherty’s credentials as a supporter of traditional Medicare.

Cicilline’s campaign has blasted Doherty’s most recent TV ad as “vile” for linking the Democrat with “brutal rapists, pedophiles and murderers” based on his career as a defense attorney. “Republicans have gone nuclear on Rep. David Cicilline,” Roll Call wrote this week.

Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers argued Friday the NRCC’s latest round of support for Doherty shows the former state police superintendent wouldn’t be an independent voice in Washington.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the national Republicans are spending big money to get Brendan Doherty to Congress so he can embolden their extreme agenda that is is trying to end the guarantee of Medicare, extend tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and roll back reproductive freedom for women,” Hyers told in an email.

• Related: Doherty has twice as much cash as Cicilline for race’s last leg (Oct. 25)

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