National Republicans haven't given up on former Rep. Mark Foley's district, recently spending $244,300 for television ads attacking Democratic hopeful Tim Mahoney.

The Democratic newcomer has become a strong contender, partly because Foley's name will remain on the ballot even though his replacement will receive those votes. The replacement, state Rep. Joe Negron, has just under five weeks to campaign.

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent the money between Foley's resignation Sept. 29 and Oct. 10, when the filing was made to the Federal Elections Commission. Foley was considered likely to be re-elected easily until his sexually explicit Internet messages to teenage male House pages were publicized.

Mahoney's campaign notes that the group has committed to spend another $690,000 by reserving air time through Nov. 7. The committee doesn't have to use the time — or pay for it — if they later determine it is not necessary.

"It looks like the bosses in Washington have sent $934,000 in tainted funds to prop up (House Speaker Dennis) Hastert's hand-picked attack dog," Mahoney campaign consultant Charles Halloran said of Negron. "We look forward to campaigning on issues that matter to Florida."

Negron said the national support shows that "Republicans are in a fighting mood, and we're not going to roll over and send a John Kerry Democrat to Congress."

The ad attacks Mahoney for his stance on Social Security. The NRCC claims Mahoney's plan would raise taxes. Halloran said Mahoney has no plans to push for higher taxes but he opposes privatization, an option favored by President Bush.

NRCC spokesman Ed Patru wouldn't say if more ads were planned, but acknowledged that more needed to be done to ensure voters know that Negron is the candidate.

In the district, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 202,500 to 170,369, according to the latest state figures.