The air war looks to be starting early in Critz v. Rothfus, one of the most-watched congressional races in the country.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has bought almost $145,000 of air time in the Pittsburgh market starting next Friday, Aug. 17, and while the public file posted by WPXI-TV today doesn't say it's for the PA12 race it almost certainly will be. The other main race in the TV market is Tim Murphy v. Larry Maggi, but that has a lower profile.

The buy makes clear that Republicans are eyeing the seat (gerrymandered by the GOP to pit Democratic incumbents Critz and Jason Altmire against each other in the spring) for a pickup. And their spot will almost surely be negative too -- that's what independent expenditure arms do, and this fall is shaping up to be really nasty already. The Democrat-supporting House Majority PAC is currently set to go on TV a month later. UPDATE: A Democratic source says the PAC will really be up just a few days after the NRCC ads run.

UPDATE: The anti-Critz buy is the biggest among 4 seats Republicans are targeting, according to Shira Toeplitz at Roll Call. The breakdown:

  • Georgia’s 12th district: $81,065 across two markets.
  • Kentucky’s 6th district: $45,305 in Lexington.
  • North Carolina’s 7th district: $27,600 in Wilmington.
  • Pennsylvania’s 12th district: $107,175 in Pittsburgh.
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