Panicked GOP to spend millions protecting embattled Rep. Mimi Walters

Congresswoman Mimi Walters

A major Republican super PAC is reserving millions of dollars for television ads in a desperate gambit to hold turn around Congresswoman Mimi Walters' unpopular image.

Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) votes in accordance with Trump’s wishes 99 percent of the time, and national Republicans are rewarding her unfaltering loyalty with millions of dollars in television ads.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a Republican SuperPAC with close ties to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), recently announced their intentions to reserve $2.3 million in television advertisement time in Walters’ district. “CLF is prepared to lead the way in defending the House Republican majority,” said Corry Bliss, executive director for CLF.

Democrats see it differently. “Vulnerable California Republicans are looking for Paul Ryan to ride in on a white horse to try to defend their record of raising taxes on working California families and fighting to rip away their healthcare,” said Drew Godinich, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson.

“The reservations come amid an unsettled outlook for November,” says the Washington Post. “Democrats have an advantage going into the midterms and are certain to pick up seats.”

Walters is in one of a growing number of Republicans in battleground districts in increasing danger of losing their seats. The announcement of such a large media buy so far away from Election Day shows Republicans are nervous about Walters’ ability to keep her job.

Recent polling in her district shows voters would rather send either of two Democratic challengers to Congress instead of Walters. A recent analysis in the L.A. Times shows Walters as increasingly vulnerable, noting her support for the unpopular GOP tax bill and repeal of the Affordable Care Act as key issues in this year’s election.

Polls in Orange County show Walters on the wrong side of more issues, including gun violence and the environment. Walters’ A rating from the NRA was once a source of pride for her. But in the wake of massive marches against gun violence, Walters has taken to running away from constituents who ask her about NRA campaign contributions.

On the environment, Walters is enthusiastically supportive of more oil drilling off the coast of California, a position at odds with Orange County residents.

CLF’s announcement comes on the heels of the Republican Party opening up a campaign office in Orange County, formerly a GOP stronghold. Republicans acknowledge their situation is worrisome, with some blaming Trump for their woes. Two Orange County Republicans, Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, decided to retire rather than seek re-election in seats that were once considered “safe.”

Before this announcement, CLF’s most recent investment was $1.7 million to support a Republican in a special congressional election in Pennsylvania. Trump carried that district by 20 points in 2016. aBut, even with CLF’s investment, the Republican lost.

Trump lost Walters’ district by more than five points in 2016, and CFL’s recent track record may indicate Walters is in even more trouble than polling indicates.