Karl Rove has $56 million in campaign cash. Where will he spend it?

Two Karl Rove political groups have raised $56 million to dole out to Election 2010 candidates. It could help Republicans at a crucial point in the election cycle.

Sue Ogrocki/AP/File
Former White House adviser Karl Rove, shown in this May 17 file photo, has $56 million in campaign cash. Where will he spend it?

Wow, Karl Rove’s got $56 million! What’s he going to spend it on?

OK, OK, to be fair, we are not talking about the Republican strategist’s personal assets here. So no one is going to be buying a mansion designed to spell out “GOP” when viewed from the air.

But two political groups associated with President Bush’s former chief political officer together have raked in $56 million, slightly above their $50 million goal, for Election 2010. The groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies, are doing so well that they’ve announced a new goal: $65 million.

On Wednesday, Mr. Rove appeared on Fox News and thanked President Obama for doing an “excellent job in helping me to raise money.” He said that since Mr. Obama began attacking the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups for allegedly taking foreign donations to use in US campaigns, the cash has flowed in even faster.

“American Crossroads has raised $13.3 million since the president began his attack on the group last week,” said Rove.

This fundraising surge comes on top of other reported GOP financial gains, such as Senate hopeful Sharron Angle’s eye-popping $14 million third quarter. What does it mean? Most of all, it means that Republicans will have money to spread around the electoral map, at the very moment when the number of competitive House races is higher than it has been in decades.

According to the Cook Political Report, 92 House seats are now in play. Of those, 85 are currently held by Democrats, and just seven by Republicans. How bad is it out there for Democrats? It is so bad Mr. Cook has moved the seat of party icon Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts out of the “Solid Democratic” column.

Congressman Frank is still a favorite in his race, according to Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman. But his GOP opponent, a Marine reservist named Sean Bielat, has deftly turned Frank’s roles in financial bailouts and regulatory reform against him.

“Frank will have to run a real campaign,” writes Mr. Wasserman.

In this context, American Crossroads will combine its resources with several other GOP-leaning groups to mount a “House surge strategy,” according to organization officials. This will involve distributing campaign cash to competitive races around the country.

On Fox News, Rove noted that the GOP was announcing plans to ramp up spending at a time when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had canceled plans to buy ads in six races.

“Each side has limited resources. The question is, how far can they stretch those?” said Rove.

Sometimes, political parties or party groups announce spending plans as a means to try and get the other side to scramble and waste cash trying to hold seats they were going to win (or lose) anyway. Sometimes, they announce spending plans as a means to try and build a sense of inevitable victory.

And sometimes they announce spending plans just because they have the cash, and they can.

American Crossroads is required to report its donors to the Federal Election Commission, so its supporters will eventually become public. Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies has been organized as a nonprofit, and thus won’t have to send its donor list to the FEC.

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