LANSING – The Dick DeVos for Governor campaign committee has spent more than $10 million for television advertising in a campaign that began on February 18th. The unprecedented ad blitz has already doubled the previous record for media spending by a Michigan gubernatorial candidate for an entire election cycle, $4.3 million by Democrat Geoffrey Fieger in 1998.
The trajectory of the campaign has accelerated dramatically in recent weeks, increasing from an average of less than $250,000 per week in May to more than $650,000 per week in late July.
The nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network collected the advertising data between July 13th and July 18th from the public files of 28 commercial broadcasters across Michigan and Comcast cable’s central sales office. The $10 million total represents gross sales through July 28th and does not include production costs for the advertisements.
In comparison, George W. Bush for President and supporting 527 organizations had spent $9.1 million for television advertising in Michigan through September 3, 2004 and John Kerry for President and supporting 527s had spent $12.4 million through the same date.
The Michigan Democratic State Central Committee has responded to the DeVos campaign with an “issue advertising” campaign that began on June 8th. The Democratic Party has spent $2.1 million through July 19th and it will not be required to disclose any information about the sources of money that are paying for its ads.
“The gubernatorial candidate committees and the respective party committees have probably raised and spent well over $25 million already this year,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “But we still haven’t seen any accounting for any of it. This should be all the evidence anybody needs to understand why we should have more frequent and more complete campaign finance reporting in Michigan.”
The scale of the early gubernatorial advertising highlights another policy issue – the responsibility of broadcast license holders to serve the public interest. Robinson noted, “The broadcasters are going to take in tens of millions of dollars in political advertising revenue this year. In exchange for virtually free use of the public airwaves, those broadcasters have a responsibility to serve the public with meaningful news coverage of the policy issues that are important to Michigan voters this year.”
Dick DeVos for Governor television spending through July 28, 2006
Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo: $1,878,780
Flint / Tri-Cities: $850,715
Northern Lower Peninsula: $743,180
Western Upper Peninsula: $247,810
MI Democratic State Central Committee television “issue ads” through July 19, 2006
Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo: $346,280
Flint / Tri-Cities: $173,950
Northern Lower Peninsula: $151,640
Western Upper Peninsula: $57,285