Political Notebook

Congressional groups wage proxy battle on TV ads in 21st Congressional race

The campaign rhetoric is ramping up as fast as an August Valley day in the 21st Congressional District race between incumbent Hanford Republican David Valadao and his challenger, Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria.

It’s actually a bit of a proxy battle between the National Republican Congressional Committee and the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The latest salvo came Monday, when the NRCC put out a news release saying the DCCC “cancelled over $900,000 worth of September TV time in California’s 21st Congressional District.”

Not true, Jesse Ferguson, who is running the DCCC’s 2014 independent expenditure campaign, said on Twitter.

Instead, the DCCC said, the ads — which included $550,000 in Fresno and the remainder in Bakersfield — were moved to October. No ads were cancelled, the DCCC said.

The DCCC said the ad time was reserved in May, but money wasn’t paid. This was cast as a strategic move. Television ads aired by the DCCC are independent of the Renteria campaign, which will start airing its own ads this month.

At this point in the campaign, the DCCC said, Renteria is doing just fine on her own.

"Amanda Renteria is running a strong campaign that's focused on creating jobs, protecting the Central Valley's water, and investing their education while holding Congressman David Valadao accountable for his out-of-touch agenda taht stackst he deck against the middle class in favor of special interests that want to privatize Social Security and end the Medicare guarantee," DCCC spokesman Tyrone Gayle said.

But Republicans say the move is a sign of surrender by Democrats. By October, they predicted, the money will be moved to a more competitive race.

“The DCCC moved television time from September to late October, two weeks after (mail) ballots go out, which is the polite way of telling Amanda Renteria that her campaign is finished,” NRCC spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said.

The NRCC pulled its own ads out of the 21st Congressional race last week, a move Republicans said was a show of confidence that Valadao is on the road to victory.

Democrats, however, point out that the Young Guns Network, a national Republican group, has booked $235,000 in ads in the Fresno and Bakersfield markets before Election Day — and the ads are still slated to run.

If Valadao was comfortably ahead, the reasoning is, why not pull those ads as well and spend that money elsewhere?

Houlton, for his part, said the NRCC “will continue to do everything necessary to ensure David Valadao is reelected to Congress.”