By CRAIG MAUGER
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
LANSING — TV screens across Michigan have already seen more than a half-million dollars in broadcast ads this fall aimed at swaying the fight for control of the Michigan House.
According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network’s (MCFN) analysis of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings and Kantar Media/CMAG ad-tracking data, candidates and groups that support or oppose them have aired an estimated $529,000 in broadcast TV ads through Monday, Oct. 17.
A joint effort of MCFN and MiDataLabs, the below map, which will be updated weekly leading up to the Nov. 8 election, shows the districts that are seeing broadcast TV ads and who's funding the ads. Hover your mouse over the districts to see who's been running broadcast ads and estimates on the groups' spending.
The ad-spending total will likely skyrocket over the 22 days from Oct. 17 until Election Day on Nov. 8, when voters will decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the State House next year.
Democrats will essentially have to flip nine seats to take the House majority back from Republicans. In 2014, Republicans won a 63-47 majority.
Through Monday, Oct. 17, MCFN tracked 11 State House races that have been the focus of broadcast TV ads. There are many more seeing cable advertisements. Those cable ad buys are not included in $529,000 total or in the above map.
Of the 11 races with broadcast ads, there were seven where groups on both sides of the race had aired advertisements.
The Muskegon County-based 91st has seen the most broadcast TV ad spending so far. The campaign of incumbent Rep. Holly Hughes (R-Montague) has aired an estimated $60,436 in broadcast ads. Former Rep. Collene Lamonte's (D-Montague) campaign has aired an estimated $56,981. Hughes unseated Lamonte by 53 votes in 2014.
Big TV spending has also been unfolding in Northern Michigan’s 106th and 108th districts.
The 106th District includes Alpena, Presque Isle, Alcona, and Iosco counties. The Alpena television market has seen TV ads from the state’s two main political parties since September 21, according to FCC records.
The Michigan Republican Party has aired about $31,650 in broadcast ads, those records indicate.
The Michigan Democratic State Central Committee has aired about $55,940 in broadcast ads, according to FCC filings.
In Michigan, many of the TV ads aired by the state's two major parties don't directly tell voters whom to vote for or against in a race. So although the ads tout a candidate or slam a candidate, the ads are so-called "issue ads" and under state law, the donors behind them don't have to be disclosed.
In the open 106th, Democrat Robert Kennedy, of Harrisville, faces Republican Sue Allor, of Wolverine
In the 108th, which covers a portion of the Upper Peninsula, Democrat Scott Celello, of Iron Mountain, has already aired about $61,940 in TV ads, according to FCC filings. Republican Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, has aired $10,395 in broadcast ads. The Michigan Republican Party has aired another $3,580 in broadcast ads. These totals do not include ads run before the primary election.
Other notes on broadcast TV spending:
— Democrat Jim Haadsma, of Battle Creek, has already run $47,528 in broadcast TV ads in his race to unseat Rep. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek). MCFN hasn't tracked any broadcast ads from Bizon's campaign yet.
— Touting three different House candidates, a nonprofit tied to Gov. Rick Snyder that doesn’t disclose its donors has run about $24,000 each. Those candidates are Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp) in the 61st, Republican Julie Alexander, of Jackson, in the 64th and Republican Beth Griffin, of Paw Paw, in the 66th.
— Democrat Harvey Schmidt, of Tecumseh, has aired about $7,881 in broadcast TV ads in the Toledo market in his race against Republican Bronna Kahle, of Adrian.