Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hart and republicans getting nervous

from the NY Times no less:

Recent GOP Spending in Pa. 4 Shows Hart May Be At-risk

But western Pennsylvania, or at least the Pittsburgh-area 4th District, is getting into the act as well. The contest between three-term Republican Rep. Melissa A. Hart and Democrat Jason Altmire, a former hospital association executive and congressional aide, now appears sufficiently competitive to merit a change to CQPolitics.com’s rating of the race, to Leans Republican from Republican Favored.

While the “Leans” rating means Hart still maintains an edge in the race, it also means that Altmire is waging a tougher fight than earlier expected and that an upset is a more plausible possibility. The previous “Favored” rating suggested that Altmire was a more distinct underdog.

As in many House districts in this difficult election year for the Republicans, national GOP officials unintentionally signaled the more uncertain outcome by rushing in resources and airing television advertisements in the 4th District, which takes in suburbs and exurbs of Pittsburgh — and which backed President Bush in 2004 by 54 percent to 45 percent.

According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) on Tuesday reported spending $163,000 to produce and air a television ad opposing Altmire — one day after the House GOP campaign committee reported spending $10,569 to poll the district. (Altmire recently released a poll taken for his campaign that showed him trailing Hart by just 48 percent to 44 percent).

Altmire’s campaign now is airing a television ad that criticizes Hart while praising his own resume and stances on issues. Echoing a theme used by numerous Democratic candidates nationwide, Altmire accuses the incumbent of voting in near-unanimity with Bush, whose popularity has sharply declined nationally and statewide in the two years since he was re-elected as president.

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