$43 million, at least, in political ads to air in Colorado

August 19, 2014

Photo: Crossroads GPS advertisementThe U.S. Senate race. The 6th Congressional District. Obamacare. Birth control. Immigration. The topics seem never ending -- and it will only get worse as the Nov. 4 general election nears.

More than $43 million in political ads – almost 18 days worth of time – have aired or will air through Election Day. That’s according to contracts filed by Colorado television stations with the Federal Communications Commission through Aug. 15.

The tally doesn’t include cable or satellite ad buys. Stations in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Durango weren’t required to begin filing the ad contract information until July 1.

Each week beginning Monday, Colorado Public Radio News will share updated information on political advertising, highlighting different aspects of the political ad invasion leading up to the Nov. 4 general election. of the political ads.

But today, some highlights so far:

  • Democratic candidates and groups are outspending Republicans so far about $24 million to $15 million.

  • The big-ticket race is the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and his GOP challenger U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner. Udall has purchased $3.7 million and Gardner almost $3.2 million to promote their candidacies – and often to criticize the other candidate.

  • Udall and Gardner aren’t the biggest spenders in the Senate race. The Senate Majority PAC is spending almost $5.7 million while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is in for $4.3 million in ads. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has $1.8 million in ad contracts.

  • In the 6th Congressional District (CD6), Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff has scheduled almost $1.2 million worth of ads; Coffman has yet to make a buy.

  • But the National Republican Congressional Committee has booked almost $2.8 million in ads to support Coffman. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has booked $1.2 million, with the House Majority PAC spending $967,000.

  • Independent outside groups also are spending heavily on the Senate race and, to a lesser extent, the CD6 matchup between GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff. Crossroads GPS, a “social welfare” nonprofit that doesn’t have to report its donations to the Federal Elections Commission, is spending $1.7 million. The ads don’t suggest voting for or against a candidate but do criticize Udall.

  • Several groups linked to the billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers are running ads.  Freedom Partners has almost $1.2 million in ads, Generation Opportunity has $648,000, Americans for Prosperity has $382,000 and American Energy Alliance has almost $160,000. Like Crossroads, these ads criticize Udall, Romanoff and other Democrats on various issues.

  • The League of Conservation Voters has spent $818,000 on ads commending Udall, while the public employees union AFSCME has spent almost $711,000 on ads criticizing Republicans.

  • At the state level, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has $1.5 million in ads scheduled, while Bob Beauprez, his Republican opponent, has yet to make an ad buy.

  • Outside groups are also spending on state level races. A new Democratic group Making Colorado Great has $1.6 million in ads that apparently will focus on the governor’s race. And the Republican Attorneys General Association has scheduled more than $2 million in ads, apparently to support GOP Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman in her race against Democrat Don Quick for the open seat.

You can get a better sense of how the political ad wars are shaping up by exploring the graphic below:

Editor's Correction: We originally reported that like Crossroads these ads criticize Udall, Coffman and other Democrats on various issues. Coffman is a Republican not a Democrat and we have corrected the story to reflect this.