- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Going into the final week before the midterm elections, a conservative advocacy group has reported $6 million worth of ad buys in races across the country — including some contests that had been considered safely Democratic.

American Crossroads, which was created by Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, is spending the cash to run ads in Senate races in Colorado, Washington and Illinois, as well as in House races in Missouri, Texas and Hawaii. Republicans are increasingly hopeful that Hawaii incumbent Rep. Charles Djou, who won a special election in May, can win a full term in President Obama’s home state.

A Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll released Monday showed the 40-year-old Republican with a 48 percent to 46 percent edge over Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, a former state lawmaker.

A win in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District would be hugely symbolic for the GOP.

Democrats held the Honolulu-based seat, President Obama’s boyhood district, from its inception in 1971 until Mr. Djou won a surprising victory in the special election against a pair of Democrats.

The race has drawn interest from outside groups on both sides, with the American Crossroads and National Republican Congressional Committee backing Mr. Djou and the Democratic National Campaign Committee and mainland labor unions, such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, weighing in with advertising and other support for Mrs. Hanabusa.

Mr. Djou won 40 percent of the vote in May, and to win on Tuesday in the overwhelmingly blue district — the president won here with 70 percent of the vote — he needs to win handily among independents and disgruntled Democrats.

Mr. Djou, a lawyer and a captain in the Army Reserves, has gone after those voters by stressing his independence from both Democrats — he is for extending all the Bush tax cuts — and Republicans. He is, for example, in favor of ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring open gays from serving in the military.

American Crossroads and its nonprofit subsidiary, Crossroads GPS, have spent more than $16 million so far this year on political campaigns, including more than $1 million apiece on the Senate races in Washington and Illinois, according to the latest reports.

Mr. Rove’s group is targeting Democrats Sen. Patty Murray in Washington and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the Illinois race for the open seat once held by Mr. Obama.

Pollsters have both races in the tossup category.

The Rove group is also spending money on ads in the closer-than-expected contests for seats held by Democratic Reps. Russ Carnahan of Missouri, Ciro D. Rodriguez of Texas and Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

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