Ballot Measures, Congressional Races Fill Up Colorado’s Airwaves

Photo: State Sen. Morgan Carroll, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman
State Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, left, is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffmann in Colorado's 6th Congressional District.

Candidates and political action committees focused on Colorado congressional races are taking to the TV airwaves, while presidential candidates are silent here.

More than $62 million in political advertising has aired or is scheduled to air before Election Day. That’s according to an analysis of Federal Communications Commission filings by TV stations and Comcast Spotlight, which sells ads on cable and satellite TV.

Congressional candidates and PACs account for nearly 26 percent of that total, with a heavy emphasis on the 6th Congressional District and increasing spending in the 3rd Congressional District.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman is being challenged by former state Senate President Morgan Carroll, a Democrat, in the 6th Congressional District. Carroll and Coffman have both been on the air recently, but the National Republican Congressional Committee is slated to start airing ads in the Denver market this week.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will begin airing ads in that race later this month through the end of October. The House Majority PAC also has scheduled air ads in the race through November.

The 6th Congressional District includes western Adams and Arapahoe counties and a bit of Douglas County.

In the 3rd Congressional District, former Democratic state Sen. Gail Schwartz began airing ads last week and continues this week as part of her effort to unseat GOP Rep. Scott Tipton. Schwartz’s ads are airing in Grand Junction, Durango and Pueblo, aimed at the district encompassing southern and western Colorado.

The House Majority PAC also has ads scheduled to begin in the 3rd Congressional District this week.

And two candidates in other congressional districts are buying time on cable and satellite TV. Here’s a look at the spending and number of ads purchased:

Presidential And U.S. Senate Race

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump spent more than $1.1 million on some 14,000 ads in the first week of September, but his campaign has yet to buy any more time.

And Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton stopped advertising in the state in July.

Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action is cutting back its ads on traditional TV, while buying about $71,000 worth of time on Spanish language channels this month.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet continues to air ads around the state, while Republican Darryl Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner, has yet to air ads or reserve air time.

Here’s a look at all political advertisers spending more than $10,000 thus far in 2016:

Ballot Initiatives

If you’re watching the evening news, you’re seeing plenty of ads about Colorado’s many ballot initiatives.

Federal and state laws don’t require TV stations or cable networks to reveal details about state-level political issues, but many stations do share those contracts.

And about $10.6 million of those contracts have been filed with the FCC.

Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy tops the list, continuing to air ads even though anti-fracking measures the group opposes aren’t on the ballot.

The campaign to allow people to end their lives with a doctor’s assistance comes in second, spending $1.8 million to opponents’ $781,000.

Coloradans for Coloradans and Colorado Health Care Choices are airing ads opposing Amendment 69 to create a state-operated health care system.

And Healthier Colorado will spend $100,000 on cable advertising advocating a sugary-drink tax on Boulder’s ballot.