Colorado candidates and independent spending committees are pouring nearly $6 million into TV advertising, much of it focused on the governor’s race.
Two multi-millionaire gubernatorial hopefuls who are spending plenty of their own money on the race— Democratic Congressman Jared Polis of Boulder and Republican businessman Victor Mitchell of Castle Rock— lead the spending spree.
At least four independent money-in-politics groups are running ads on behalf of candidates running for governor.
And $1.8 million of outside TV ad money appears aimed at fall’s 6th Congressional District race, where GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is considered vulnerable.
The numbers come from a review of ad contracts filed by Colorado TV stations and cable providers with the Federal Communications Commission. Some of the contracts are for June and even August through Election Day.
The spending through May 4 is primarily in the Denver market, where rates are higher than in Colorado Springs or Grand Junction. That $4.7 million in Denver is higher than the $3.8 million at a similar point in the 2014 midterms.
Here’s a look at the top spenders and the number of spots they’ve bought or scheduled.
Polis, one of four candidates in the June 26 Democratic primary, began in early April booking ads to air in June. He went on TV the week after the April 14 party assembly.
Also in that primary, former state Sen. Mike Johnston aired ads from late April through May 4, while former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne took to the airwaves last week. The two women candidates have ads slated through the middle of the month.
On the Republican side, Mitchell has been on TV since mid-February. GOP businessman Doug Robinson aired some cable ads in February and March.
But independent expenditure committees, or IECS, appear to be taking up the slack for several candidates. Those committees may take unlimited disclosed contributions and spend on anything they want, though they aren’t supposed to coordinate with candidates or political parties.
Frontier Fairness PAC is airing at least $607,000 worth of ads promoting Johnston in Denver and Colorado Springs.
Better Colorado Now has aired at least $96,000 in ads promoting GOP state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who has yet to buy any of his own advertising.
Build Colorado’s Future spent about $30,000 on ads favoring Robinson.
And Teachers for Kennedy apparently signed contracts with some stations late last week, though none of the contracts have been filed.
Not all stations are filing contracts by the IECs with the FCC. When asked about the lack of contracts for Frontier Fairness and Teachers for Kennedy, Marcus Wilkerson, director of sales for KDVR and KWGN in Denver, replied in an email.
He said federal law doesn’t require disclosure of state-level, non-candidate spending, even though it was pointed out to him that many stations do disclose such spending especially if it refers to candidates in statewide races.
“… we are not posting the contracts for these buys as we are not obligated to under (federal law). Contracts that are uploaded to file will include candidate spending and issues of national importance,” Wilkerson wrote.
A fourth GOP primary candidate, Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, is the only gubernatorial not yet represented in the TV ad race. The Republican’s campaign filed a report claiming no spending or fundraising since the first of the year.
The Democratic House Majority PAC ($958,000) and Republican Congressional Leadership Fund ($896,350) are both booking ad time for the fall.
It’s likely that’s aimed at the 6th CD, where Coffman will face either lawyer Jason Crow or businessman Levi Tilleman, depending on the outcome of the Democratic primary.
Coffman has faced repeated challengers since 2012, when his seat was redistricted to include much of Aurora, a diverse and far less safe Republican seat than he was originally elected to. But Coffman has repeatedly defeated his Democratic opponents.
Meanwhile, a group called Colorado United for Families took aim at 3rd CD GOP Rep. Scott Tipton with nearly $160,000 in ads airing in Grand Junction and Pueblo/Colorado Springs.
The state Republican Party’s IEC is also booking time for August and early September to the tune of more than $173,000.