Democrats Close to Awarding $50 Mil. Media Chores

With all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives up for grabs in November’s midterm elections, both major political parties are preparing for what some predict will be a record-setting year for paid-media spending.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Com mittee appears close to naming an agency to handle media chores, sources said.

A short list of three or four agencies has emerged for the DCCC account, whose budget has not been finalized but will likely approach the $50 million range, sources said.

The shops were culled from a field of about a dozen politically connected agencies initially contacted by the DCCC.

The contenders, all believed to be small or midsize East Coast players with strong backgrounds in buying media for political campaigns, have made presentations to the client, and a decision could come this week, sources said. The DCCC hopes to sign a two-year contract with the winner by Feb. 1, according to sources.

A DCCC representative said on Friday that no final agency decision had been made, but would disclose no other information. Alexandria, Va.-based consultant Kelly McMahon, of Trippi McMahon & Squire, is overseeing the review; she did not return calls by press time.

The DCCC and the Repub lican National Congressional Committee, both based in Washington, raise money for the election of U.S. House candidates. The committees will use the money to target congressional races they think they can win, and also to produce issue-advocacy ads.

While the amount of contributions to individual campaigns is limited under campaign finance law, unlimited amounts—so-called “soft money”—can be spent on issue-advocacy ads.

The winner of the DCCC media account will likely also buy media for the advocacy ads.

Separately, a representative for the RNCC confirmed the Repub licans will begin a media review in the spring. No budget estimate or timetable for that search was available.