[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/31/art.steelehands0131.gi.jpg caption="RNC chairman Michael Steele is hoping for a win in NY-20."](CNN) - Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele is following through on his pledge to pump cash into the special election race in New York’s 20th congressional district.
The RNC is spending $80,000 on a new television spot supporting GOP candidate Jim Tedisco, the New York assemblyman hoping to take back the seat for Republicans after Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
A Republican win in the Northeast could boost party morale - and fundraising - as the GOP struggles to find its feet after last November’s losses.
Though the district traditionally leans Republican, Steele has attached serious symbolic importance to the seat. After traveling to New York to meet with state party officials last month, he called the race a “battle royale” and named the March 31 special election as a top priority before the focus turns to this fall’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey.
The Democrat in the race - venture capitalist Scott Murphy - went up with his first ad last week, but without the help of national party money.