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September 04, 2008

NRSC Cancels Ads In New Mexico

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has canceled more than $2.3 million in television advertising time the committee had reserved in New Mexico, suggesting the party thinks it has little hope of retaining Senator Pete Domenici's seat.

Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who won a competitive primary, has consistently polled far behind his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tom Udall. Domenici is retiring, and Democrats say the NRSC's move means Republicans have all but given up on the state.

NRSC chairman John Ensign faces a financial shortfall against the better-funded Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and that will force his committee to make compromises. "We'll have to make a judgement call on [whether to invest in] races," he said in an interview with Politico reporters yesterday. The decision to invest will be made based on "a question of whether we think there's issues there, whether there's enough that we can close the gap and actually bring them over the line."

Republicans maintain that the decision to pull funding may be final. "They're making decisions right now," said NRSC spokesman John Randall of the committee's independent expenditure unit. "That doesn't mean [the decision] won't change the next day or the next week." By law, the independent expenditure unit operates separately from the NRSC.

Ensign has faced other tough financial decisions lately after his call to fellow senators to fully fund the committee's coffers went largely unheeded. The committee has reserved time in every other competitive state, but financial constraints may force further cutbacks in ad buys.