The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun a multimillion-dollar television ad buy blasting Democratic congressional candidates in California, including three in the Sacramento area.
The ads from the Washington-based business group hammer both incumbents and challengers for supporting taxes or President Barack Obama's national healthcare overhaul. Many of the ads warn seniors of a $716 billion reduction in Medicare spending, an attack Democrats counter is misleading because the reductions are envisioned over time from providers and insurers and would not affect services.
The ads are aimed at Ami Bera, who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren in the eastern Sacramento suburbs; Rep. Jerry McNerney, who is seeking re-election to a Stockton-Tracy district against Republican Ricky Gill, and Jose Hernandez, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Jeff Denham of Atwater.
The National Journal reported the chamber would launch similar ads against Rep. John Garamendi, who is facing Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann in a district that includes West Sacramento. But chamber officials said the Garamendi-Vann race is not part of the buy.
Other California Democrats targeted in ads include Rep. Lois Capps, D-San Luis Obispo in her race against Abel Maldonado, Mark Takano, a challenger to Republican John Tavaglione in Riverside; Sen. Alan Lowenthal, running in a Long Beach-area seat against Republican Gary DeLong; Sen. Julia Brownley, seeking a southern central coast seat against Sen. Tony Strickland.
The chamber says the ad buy is part of its largest election effort ever. "The path to a pro-business majority in the House of Representatives goes through California," Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director of the U.S. Chamber, said in a prepared release. "Free enterprise, not government, will lead our economic recovery in California and across the country."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said that the GOP -- and the Chamber -- are worried that a lackluster presidential race in reliably blue California will drag down Republican congressional candidates. "While these outside groups can try to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, the ship for these California Tea Party Republicans will still sink," spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a prepared release.
Editor's Note: This post was updated to correct that mark Takano is running against John Tavaglione, not Ken Calvert. Corrected at 3:18 p.m. Sept. 28, 2012.