Preseason gubernatorial TV ad tab: $16.7 million

LANSING -- As Michigan’s gubernatorial campaign reaches the traditional starting date – traditional Labor Day – the campaigns have already spent $16.7 million for television advertising. Those figures are gross sales through August 31st.

The nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network collected the sales figures from 28 Michigan television stations and Comcast Cable’s central sales office between August 28th and August 30th.

Dick DeVos for Governor has spent $12.8 million in an ad blitz that began in mid February. Jennifer Granholm for Governor has spent $469,000 for one flight of ads that bracketed primary Election Day in August. The Michigan Democratic State Central Committee has done the bulk of the pro-Granholm advertising: $3.5 million since early June.

“It is very difficult to view this as some sort of celebration of democracy,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “Through the pre-primary campaign finance reports, Mr. DeVos had been the source of 80 percent of his campaign’s funds this year. And on the other hand, the Michigan Democratic Party’s ad campaign, and its list of contributors, is entirely off the books because they are defining the candidates without making explicit reference to the election.”

“This boils down to dueling marketing campaigns of one exceptionally wealthy individual against anonymous persons and interest groups,” Robinson said.

The campaigns have adopted notably different tactics in their campaigns. The DeVos campaign has placed 9.5 percent of its buys on cable, as opposed to the traditional broadcast outlets. Granholm and the Democratic Party have placed 20 percent of their buys on cable.

Another unique feature of television advertising this political season is the purchasing of ad time far in advance of airing. The DeVos campaign, Debbie Stabenow for Senate and the federal Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have purchased time already for the last three weeks before Election Day, apparently out of concern that the most desirable advertising inventory will be sold out well ahead of time.

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