It appears increasingly that San Diego's 52nd District battle between Republican Carl DeMaio and freshman Democratic congressman Scott Peters may become ground zero in a TV proxy war between Democratic senate majority leader Harry Reid and the billionaire Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas.
The latest omen: a $27,900 purchase of 58 30-second television spots on Scripps-owned ABC affiliate KGTV by Patriot Majority, a super-PAC run by former Reid aide Craig Varoga.
According to a station document, the commercials are running from July 14 through July 27.
Before now, the Reid-linked political action committee had most recently surfaced in the reelection race in Arkansas between incumbent Democratic senator Mark Pryor and his GOP challenger, congressman Tom Cotton.
A Patriot Majority TV campaign there claimed Cotton used government loans to pay his Harvard tuition but has opposed a low-interest college program for Arkansas students, according to the Hotline.
Patriot Majority's San Diego media buy is the second by a Democrat-backing political action committee in the Peters-DeMaio clash.
As reported here last month, an inside-the-beltway outfit called House Majority PAC has booked a gross total of $155,595 for 181 spots to run between September 29 and November 3 on CBS affiliate KFMB.
"Formed in April 2011, House Majority PAC’s goal was to answer the barrage of GOP outside spending and ensure that never again would groups funded by Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and the like be able to drown out Democratic candidates," says the PAC's website.
Before that, the Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity PAC reportedly sank six figures into anti-Peters ads here in February.
"The conservative group will spend about $145,000 on ads to air on San Diego–area cable-TV stations in an attempt to weaken the freshman congressman," reported Politico. "The commercials, according to a Republican source familiar with the purchase, will air until March 2."
San Diego has become a hotbed for Koch interests, say several insiders, due to the presence here of two of the brothers’ most dedicated followers, real estate developer and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester and KFMB television and radio magnate Elisabeth Kimmel.
During the spring primary, supporters of DeMaio’s Republican rival Kirk Jorgensen accused Manchester and Kimmel of manipulating their coverage to favor Koch-backed DeMaio. Both media owners have also been DeMaio financial backers.
In addition, Kimmel's family foundation has favored Koch-linked causes and Manchester's U-T San Diego has been in partnership with the Alexandria, Virginia-based Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
The non-profit is said by the Columbia Review of Journalism to be a beneficiary of Koch funding.
Steven Greenhut, Franklin Center's former vice president for journalism, is currently the California columnist for Manchester's media operation.