By Josh Kraushaar

June 22, 2012 | 2:21 p.m.

The centrist public policy group Center Forward is going up with a $1.25 million ad blitz this weekend to assist five Blue Dog Democrats who have supported deficit reduction and budget reforms – while also aiding three fiscally-conservative House Republicans who voted against Paul Ryan‘s budget proposal.

The issue advocacy ads, which begin airing Saturday, will be broadcast in the districts of: Reps. John Barrow, D-Ga.; Ben Chandler, D-Ky., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., Jim Matheson, D-Utah, David McKinley, R-W.V., Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., and Todd Platts, R-Pa. Of the five Democrats it’s assisting, four face tough re-election bids, while one (Donnelly) is running for open Indiana Senate seat. Donnelly is facing tea party-backed Republican Richard Mourdock in November.

“Americans know we’re drowning in debt. But some politicians just don’t get it. They want to essentially end Medicare. Increasing costs on seniors. Ben Chandler knows there’s a better way,” a narrator says in the ad praising Chandler. “It’s why Chandler opposed a dangerous plan to privatize Medicare. And supports balancing the budget by cutting wasteful spending – while protecting Medicare for those who’ve earned it after a lifetime of hard work. Tell Ben Chandler to keep balancing the budget — the right way.”

The group, formerly named the Blue Dog Research Forum, is chaired by former Alabama Rep. Bud Cramer and its board members are a who’s who of former Blue Dog Democrats in Congress. It changed its name in March so it could broaden its appeal to moderate Republicans concerned about the size of the deficit.

Of the three Republicans the group is assisting, all are expected to coast to re-election. The three were among the 10 House Republicans who voted against the Ryan budget blueprint in a March 2012 vote.

In March, Center Forward spent $1 million on a national ad campaign urging members of Congress to balance the budget. It also assisted Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Holden, a Democrat who lost his primary in April to a more-liberal opponent.