Spending on political TV ads in Colorado tops $12M. Here’s who is paying and why.


Democratic congressional hopefuls and two Republican candidates for treasurer are joining candidates for governor on the TV airwaves.

Political TV advertising this campaign season has now topped $12 million— and is financing enough spots to fill more than 13 solid days of viewing just four weeks before the June 26 primary.

That’s according to an analysis of contracts that broadcast and cable providers filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Not all the ads you’ll see are reported, because contracts for Super PACs advertising on behalf of state-level candidates and issues aren’t required to disclose their spending. Still, many stations do disclose those contracts.

Here’s a look at spending through May 25 by race:

Consuming much of the airtime are ads for candidates in the governor’s race — more than $8.5 million worth. They include two multi-millionaire candidates: Boulder Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and Republican businessman Victor Mitchell, who account for the bulk of the spending.

Here’s a look at spending by advertiser:

With eight candidates in the governor’s race, the $3.6 million Polis paid for ads accounts for 42 percent of all the TV ad spending in the governor’s race so far.

Meanwhile, contracts filed with the FCC for the election in Colorado’s battleground 6th Congressional District in the Denver suburbs are from Super PACs that are set to air in the fall when GOP Congressman Mike Coffman is expected to again face a tough challenge.

ColoradoPolitics.com reported Democrat Jason Crow will start airing TV ads. Comcast filed a contract Tuesday afternoon with Crow’s campaign for $59,000 in Denver-area ads through Sunday.

Former CU Regent Joe Neguse is spending more than $152,000 on TV ads in his 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary against former Air Force fighter pilot Mark Williams. That seat opened up when Polis decided to run for governor. That district encompasses Boulder, Larimar, Grand, Summit and Vail counties, among others.

In the 5th Congressional District, anchored by Colorado Springs and one of the most heavily Republican areas of the country, both incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn and retired Texas judge Bill Rhea, one of Lamborn’s four primary challengers, are airing TV ads.

And in the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses the Western Slope, Democratic candidate Karl Hanlon is beaming almost $8,000 worth of ads into Pueblo and Grand Junction. The attorney faces former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush and former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi in the primary, with the winner facing incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton. Menconi ran for U.S. Senate as a member of the Green Party in 2016.

Two of the three GOP candidates for state treasurer this year, state Rep. Polly Lawrence and developer Brian Watson, are airing ads on cable television. They face state Rep. Justin Everett on June 26.

And the Secretary of State’s office is spending nearly $71,000 on premium digital cable ads in Denver and Colorado Springs aimed at unaffiliated voters. Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams is also running for re-election.

The office said they expect to deliver more than 1.4 million impressions of the ad aimed at frequent but unaffiliated voters. The ads explain how those unaffiliated voters may participate for the first time in the state’s primary election.

Related: Unaffiliated voters are asking for more Democratic than GOP ballots in the Colorado primaries

Those ads began Monday and air through June 26.


Photo by Iain Watson for Creative Commons on Flickr.