In Washington D.C. the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is hard at work hoping to elect more Democrats to the U.S. House.
In Iowa, they’ve targeted 3rd District Republican incumbent David Young for defeat.
The DCCC has launched television ads linking Young to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The ads will run in Iowa through the Republican convention.
The ads are running in ten congressional districts across the country.
In the ads actors portray voters talking to their elected representatives.
“I want to say something to my congressman,” one ad begins.
The voters say they are unhappy that Republican congressmembers are standing behind their party’s controversial new standard-bearer Donald Trump.
They call that party loyalty going too far.
“The things Donald Trump says about women and immigrants and veterans,” the ad continues. “How can Republican members of congress support that?”
Democrats picked the ten districts based on the potential vulnerability of the Republican incumbent, and on the demographics of the voters.
They say Iowa’s 3rd District is perfect for their ads.
Regional Press Secretary Tyler Law says Des Moines and its suburbs include many independent women over the age of 25, what he calls a persuadable target.
“They are going to reject Trump’s divisive campaign, especially the nasty things he said about women,” Law says. “And similarly reject David Young who has blindly followed Donald Trump.”
David Young’s re-election campaign did not return calls for comment, but Young talked about Trump in a recent appearance on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press program.
Young said he wants a Republican president who will follow the will of a Republican congress, and make the best Supreme Court appointments.
He made clear he’s not endorsing Trump.
“I didn’t endorse anyone in the primary and I’ve always said I'm going to support the nominee,” Young said. “But I don't have to stand behind everything the nominee says.”
“There is no difference between supporting someone and endorsing him,” Law responded. “This is political doublespeak at its worst.”
Some of the targeted districts have big Latino populations. The ads aim to remind voters of Trump’s positions on immigration. Others are like Iowa’s 3rd District with many urban and suburban women. Drake Political Science Professor Rachel Caufield says that makes sense.
“The DCCC has gone through the demographics to find out who is the most persuadable,” Caufield says. “And young professional women are obviously attractive to them.”
The Democrats call the seven-figure campaign unprecedented because of its cost and how early it’s running. Caufield says it’s unusual for ads like this to run before the nominee is officially named:
“One of the things the DCCC is trying to do here is to create a perception among voters before voters are even paying attention to these races,” Caufield said.
Caufield says if Democrats can define a Republican congress member as a sidekick to Donald Trump now, that definition could stick.
On Iowa Press, Congressman Young said it’s not at all clear whether the presidential nominee will influence other races down the ballot for either Republicans or Democrats.
“That's the big question,” Young said. “Could it hurt the down ticket? We don’t know. Could Hillary Clinton hurt the down ticket? We just don't know.”
In the meantime, Young says he is an independent Iowa voice. He vows to speak up when he doesn’t agree with Trump and when he does.