Campaign advertising floods the airwaves
Looking forward to focusing on politics this weekend?
Well, you might have to watch a little PGA Championship golf Sunday between the wall-to-wall ads for governor candidates on WFSB Channel 3.
In their last gasp before the Tuesday primary, the seven hopefuls — two Democrats and five Republicans — are giving TV stations windfalls of hundreds of thousands of dollars, before it all stops abruptly Monday night.
The ad buying will rev up again after the smoke clears and Connecticut Democrats and Republicans finally choose their nominees for governor and the top-of-the-ticket for the November elections.
Hundreds and hundreds of 30-second spots will be aired this weekend, and Channel 3 will be among the winners. A 30-second spot during the PGA tournament, with its 35-year-old-plus audience, cost David Stemerman, the Greenwich Republican, $1,000.
Stemerman, the former Greenwich hedge-fund founder who closed the operation to seek his first elective office, is also on TV in the New York City market.
Candidates' cash on hand
Lamont, Stefanowski and Stemerman are millionaires who can give more money to their campaigns at any time. Boughton, Herbst and Obsitnik are eligible for public financing from the state.
Ned Lamont: $12,786
Joe Ganim: $173,010
Mark Boughton: $485,223
Tim Herbst: $698,665
Steve Obsitnik: $645,123
Bob Stefanowski: $545,582
David Stemerman: $7,609,112
Source: State Elections Enforcement Commission, most recent filings
Later Sunday night, during “60 Minutes,” Republican Bob Stefanowski, a former Madison businessman who, like Stefanowski, is funding his own campaign, paid $3,600 for 30-second of voter eyeball time. His ad on the daytime standby “The Price is Right,” is $1,200 for each of five days.
That makes the $175 Republican Tim Herbst paid for 30 seconds on “Jimmy Kimmel” Friday night on WTNH News 8, a downright bargain. That’s 10 times less than the $1,800 Herbst, the former Trumbull first selectman, paid for a prime-time 30 second Thursday night on NBC 30’s “Law and Order.” Thirty seconds on the late Channel 8 news Friday is costing Herbst $550.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the endorsed Republican candidate for governor, has paid $45,000 for 104 ads on Channel 8 during the culmination of the campaign.
Ned Lamont of Greenwich, the endorsed Democrat, purchased 109 spots on Channel 8, totaling about $46,000.
For Fox 61 viewers, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim will portray himself as a pugilist for the people about 54 times during the last week of the campaign, ranging in price from $40 for a 5:30 a.m. spot, to $600 for prime time on the channel most loved by conservatives.
Steve Obsitnik, the Westport tech entrepreneur who was last to go up on TV after delays in achieving the $1.35 million in public financing, seems to be more frugal with his TV investments. Obsitnik booked 52 ads with Fox 61 in recent days, for a cost of about $5,000. According to public filings at the state’s major TV outlets, Obsitnik stopped advertising on NBC-30 before the last week in July.
Come Tuesday, when the polls open from 6 until 8 p.m. and the suspenseful outcome drifts into the late evening, the cash spigot will turn off, briefly.
Pouring in the cash
From July 1 to Aug. 5, Lamont outspent his primary challenger Ganim nearly 7 to 1, according to finance filings with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Lamont dropped $1,642,455 in this period, including $1 million on TV, Ganim spent only $246,352.
Lamont’s campaign-finance strategy appears to be pour tons of money into the race ahead of the primary, even if it depletes his cash on hand to a measly $12,786, financial filings dated Aug. 5 show. Of course, Lamont, a millionaire who is funding his own campaign, will kick in more cash when needed.
Likewise, the Republican millionaires are spending big.
In the last week of July, Stemerman spent $864,252 on his campaign — almost as much as Ganim has raised total. His expenses included about a half million on TV ads and more than $100,000 on direct mailers to voters. In total, Stemerman has spent nearly $5.5 million on his race for governor, but he had $7,609,112 left as of July 31.
Stefanowski spent $323,080 in one week on TV, print advertising, lawn signs, direct mail and other costs. He also loaned himself $300,000. As of July, he had spent $2.4 million on his campaign, but he has $545,582 left.
Boughton, Herbst and Obsitnik, the three candidates who qualified for grants, closed July in similar financial positions. The three each had raised a total of about $1.5 million — including their grants — as of July 31. And they each closed the month with approximately a half million on hand.
Obsitnik spent the most at the end of July, dropping $730,411 on TV spots, ad production and lawn signs. Boughton also purchased a TV spot in the last week, while Herbst put his funds in radio commercials, mailers and digital ads.