American Bridge 21st Century, the powerhouse Democratic opposition research group, is expanding to target House candidates for the first time — a significant sign of how hotly contested the battle for the lower chamber is.

The staffing plans, shared first with POLITICO, mark a notable expansion for the oppo shop, which in addition to the presidential contest already had down-ballot programs focused on the Senate and state races like governorships.

The group is one of the largest and most public facing organizations affiliated with the Democratic Party. Originally founded by David Brock in 2010, the group’s super PAC arm reported burning through nearly $73 million in 2020 — and $36.5 million in the midterms — making it one of the most prolific outside spenders on either side of the aisle.

So while opposition research has long been a factor in House elections — both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have robust research shops, as do party super PACs — the entrance of a group as large as Bridge will bring significantly more resources to the table.

“Republicans running for the U.S. House have spent the past decade coasting on Donald Trump’s reprehensible behavior and outright bigotry. No longer,” Pat Dennis, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “If the Republican Party is going to continue putting up racists, QAnon lunatics and supporting characters from The Handmaid’s Tale as their candidates, we’re going to make sure voters know it.”

The organization’s House research director will be Erin Sullivan. Philip Shulman will run the House project’s communications, and he’ll be joined by Matilda Bress and Monica Venzke.

Republicans currently hold a two-seat majority in the House, and the battle to control the chamber next year is tight. The organization expects to launch background research and candidate tracking in potentially dozens of races.

That includes a mix of seats where Democrats are on defense — like Rep. Susan Wild’s district in Northeast Pennsylvania or the open-seat race being vacated by Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia — and offensive targets like Rep. David Schweikert in suburban Phoenix and Rep. Marc Molinaro in New York’s Hudson Valley.

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