Screen Time: Big bucks are behind those political TV ads in Colorado. Here’s who is paying.

Republican Walker Stapleton, the current state treasurer who is running for Colorado governor, hit the cable airwaves last week and is coming to a TV screen near you to the tune of at least $627,000.

But he still isn’t close to the nearly $3 million that Congressman Jared Polis is investing (of his own money) in TV ads as he tries to win the four-way Democratic primary for governor.

And self-funding GOP candidate Victor Mitchell, a one-time lawmaker and businessman, still leads Stapleton by spending north of $1 million on more than 5,500 ad spots thus far this year. That compares with nearly 9,000 spots for Polis.

The latest ad spending is based on an analysis of contracts filed by Colorado TV stations and major cable providers with the Federal Communications Commission through May 18.

Here’s a look at the ad buying thus far this year:

In the governor’s race:

  • Mitchell began airing ads in mid-February and Polis in mid-April. The two multi-millionaires have been on TV ever since. Most of Mitchell’s ads are airing on cable.
  • GOP candidate Doug Robinson aired cable ads in February and March.
  • Democratic candidates Cary Kennedy, the former state treasurer, and Lt. Gov Donna Lynne began airing ads at the beginning of this month.
  • Democrat Michael Johnston is scheduling ad time for the weeks prior to the June 26 primary.

Federal law doesn’t require disclosure of state-level independent spending ads. But many stations do file those contracts, and they reveal that the super PAC game is also strong in the governor’s race:

  • Better Colorado Now, funded by a variety of business interests, is airing ads this month on behalf of Stapleton.
  • Frontier Fairness, funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others, is scheduling ads on behalf of Johnston for July.
  • Teachers for Kennedy, funded by teachers unions, will hit the air after Memorial Day.

More than $6 million of the $10.6 million in ad buys thus far will begin airing as early as this week.

The 6th Congressional District, centered on Aurora, looks to be a battleground for outside groups as Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman is again challenged in what is considered a swing district.

The House Majority PAC has reserved $1.3 million in ad time for fall to support the Democratic candidate (or, more likely, to attack Coffman), while the Congressional Leadership Fund has $1.2 million in time reserved to support Coffman (or, more likely, to attack the Dem candidate). Lawyer Jason Crow faces businessman Levi Tilleman in a Democratic primary that pits traditional party players versus more progressive interests.

You can check out some of the commercials (and TV truth tests on them) as well as other campaign messages at Follow The Message. Are you getting mailers, robocalls or digital ads? Share them with Follow the Message.

Photo by Michael Coghlan for Creative Commons on Flickr.