Hyper-partisan SEIU dominates ad-spending

Jumbo union puts all its eggs into anti-GOP basket

During the last two weeks, Missouri TV viewers have faced a barrage of campaign ads — at least 7,200 spots — from candidates who have spent more than $2.7 million to promote themselves and their views.

The avalanche of ads largely reflects the ramping up of the contests in the Aug. 5 primary, notably the Republican battle for governor between U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof and state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. But when it comes to TV ads, Hulshof and Steelman are being outspent by others — some of whom won't be on that ballot.

During the last two weeks, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has been the biggest ad-spending candidate in the state, even though he and Republican rival John McCain won't face Missouri voters until Nov. 4.

Since July 10, Obama has spent at least $516,410 to run TV ads in the state, compared with $408,567 for McCain. Obama outspent McCain in every major Missouri media market except Joplin, Mo., according to figures compiled by TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group. The nonpartisan ad-monitoring firm is tracking campaign spending for the Post-Dispatch.

McCain actually outspent Obama statewide during the last week. Presumably, the Democratic contender sharply curbed his Missouri ad buys because of the free TV coverage of Obama's overseas trip.

Evan Tracey, the ad-monitoring firm's chief operating officer, said the TV spending makes clear that McCain and Obama are targeting Missouri voters.

McCain is running ads in fewer swing states than Obama, Tracey said.

Dave Robertson, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said McCain's ad spending here reflects the fact that "he must win Missouri" in November.

For Obama, Missouri may be less crucial if he carries other swing states, Robertson said.

Among the candidates on the Aug. 5 primary ballot, the biggest ad spender is state Sen. Chris Koster, a Democratic candidate for attorney general.

Since July 10, Koster has doled out at least $429,595 to air 1,061 ad spots. Most of those ads have aired on TV stations in St. Louis and Kansas City, where the bulk of Missouri's Democratic voters live.

Koster's spending, so far, has overwhelmed that of his Democratic opponents. State Rep. Margaret Donnelly has paid $264,684 for 477 spots, all running on St. Louis or Kansas City stations.

No figures were available for state Rep. Jeff Harris, whose campaign said he was slated to begin airing ads Sunday night. Harris led in the recent Post-Dispatch/KMOV poll of likely Democratic primary voters.

In the Republican contest for governor, Steelman and Hulshof have been neck and neck in TV ad buys. During the last two weeks, she has slightly outspent Hulshof statewide. But he has run more ad spots because he's airing some in cheaper, rural TV markets.

Since July 10, Steelman spent $330,968 for 905 spots, compared with $303,587 (1,093 spots) for Hulshof.

Hulshof is running more ads on St. Louis and Springfield TV stations, and is overwhelming Steelman in Joplin, a GOP stronghold. However, she has had the airwaves to herself on Kansas City stations, which reach Republican-leaning suburban voters.

Meanwhile, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Jay Nixon, has spent almost $209,000 to run ads on stations in Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia. His campaign ads didn't run in St. Louis during the last two weeks. However, an independent group — the Service Employees International Union — spent $195,000 to run ads in St. Louis and other media markets around the state.


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