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Scientists Are Entering The New York House Battlefield — And They’re Bringing Money

A pro-science political action committee on Thursday said that it will buy more than $1.6 million worth of ads in four U.S. House of Representatives races where President Joe Biden carried the district but Republican candidates won in 2022.

Two of those will be in New York, with surprise Democratic losses in the midterm elections and redistricting making the state a focal point for both parties as they look to November. Republicans hold a 219-213 edge on Democrats in the chamber, so control may hinge on a small number of toss-up races.

“Scientists and STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] candidates are problem-solvers and who know how to work across the aisle to get things done,” said Josh Morrow, the executive director of the PAC, which is named the 314 Action Fund.

“They’re result-driven leaders who will put politics aside in order to put the interests of everyday Americans first.”

In New York, the group is taking aim at districts held by Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) in the New York City area and Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) in the Syracuse area. The PAC said that it is reserving $500,000 for ads in LaLota’s race, where he is expected to face 314 Action-endorsed chemist Nancy Goroff, and $350,000 in Williams’ race.

The group has also reserved $272,000 for a race in Nebraska, where moderate Republican Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) barely eked out a victory in 2022 against Democrat Tony Vargas, who is now running again. Vargas has already been endorsed by the PAC.

And it will buy ads in the Oregon district of Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.), who won by 2 percentage points in 2022. The reservation there by the 314 Action Fund, which has endorsed the district’s leading Democratic candidates, is for $500,000.

All of the ad reservations are for the final two weeks of the campaigns to give them more impact.

“This is the first round of reservations we’re making, and we intend to make more,” Morrow said. Other races being eyed by his group include two in California, one in Arizona, one in Iowa and one in Michigan.

The PAC spent more than $25 million in the past two election cycles, and has claimed victories in 11 federal-level races since 2018. Taking its name from the first three digits of the irrational number pi, the group’s stated aim is to “elect science leaders and defeat climate deniers in Congress and legislatures across the country.”