Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, is cutting off support for two Republican incumbents, Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop and Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, according to a person familiar with the group’s plans.
The super PAC will cancel its planned TV advertising for both members, a move that comes as the party refocuses its funds on races that leaders feel confident they can win — and away from those it sees as out of reach. The organization had $1 million in TV advertising reserved for Coffman and $2.1 million for Bishop, dollars that will now be redistributed elsewhere.
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Party officials say both incumbents are trailing Democratic challengers ahead of the midterm elections, and both are expected to be significantly outspent during the final weeks of their campaigns.
“CLF will continue to run strong field operations in these districts and will continue to conduct polling and evaluate races across the country as we do everything we can to protect the Republican majority,” said Courtney Alexander, a spokeswoman for the group.
There is not complete agreement in the party, however, about Coffman’s prospects. Following the super PAC’s announcement, the National Republican Congressional Committee said it would add $600,000 to its TV reservation in the district, according to a person familiar.
Republicans are waging an uphill battle to protect their 23-seat House majority. In recent weeks they have begun a painful round of political triage, with party officials racing to determine which seats can still be saved. Privately, GOP strategists concede that as many as a dozen of the party’s seats are no longer winnable — half of the margin Democrats need to take back the House.
Among the seats that the party feels increasingly pessimistic about are those held by Minnesota Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis, Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum.
Party officials say additional incumbents will likely need to be cut off in the weeks to come.
The decision to cut off Bishop in particular, however, caught some by surprise. The second-term lawmaker represents an exurban Detroit-area district that was carried by Donald Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney four years earlier. Bishop, a former leader in the Michigan state legislature, won reelection in 2016 by 17 percentage points. This year, he is running against Democrat Elissa Slotkin, who was a defense official in the Obama administration.
Bishop aides pushed back on the notion their race was lost. On Friday afternoon, following the super PAC’s announcement that it was withdrawing, Bishop’s campaign released a memo claiming that recent polling showed the incumbent with a small lead over his Democratic opponent. The internal poll conducted last week showed Bishop with a slim 2-point edge over Slotkin, 45 percent to 43 percent.
“Our internals show us leading and we feel confident Mike Bishop will be re-elected,” said Stu Sandler, a Bishop adviser.
A poll conducted for Slotkin’s campaign the same week showed her with a 4-point advantage over Bishop, 47 percent to 43 percent.
Democrats appear especially confident in their prospects of defeating Coffman, a fifth-term political survivor who represents a Denver-area swing district. Earlier this week, the Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC canceled nearly $800,000 in planned TV advertising in the district.
CLF’s move is the latest Republican move to pull money out of districts that are starting to look unwinnable. Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee canceled all of its ad reservations in Rep. Keith Rothfus’ (R-Pa.) district, as he faces an uphill battle for reelection against Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb.