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Politics and Government

$1 million a week is being spent on TV ads in Coffman-Crow race, analysis shows

An analysis of FCC filings also shows big money from Republicans in state Senate contests

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The 6th Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and challenger Jason Crow reached toward another milestone: $1 million in television commercials in a single week.

The big money  — mostly from party committees and outside organizations — represents nearly half of all TV ad spending in Colorado this election cycle, according to The Colorado Sun’s review of Federal Communications Commission filings.

More than $978,000 worth of TV ads in that contest aired in the past week, taking up nearly two days worth of viewing time on both cable and traditional channels. And it will only continue ahead of the Nov. 6 general election, where Coffman, the Republican incumbent, is trying to fend off Democratic recruit Jason Crow.

For the general election, nearly $30 million has been spent with $14 million worth of those ads targeting the 6th District based in Aurora, Centennial, Littleton and Brighton.

MORE: Campaign ads in Colorado: Why they matter and what they tell you about the candidates

The numbers are based on contracts filed by broadcast stations and cable providers with the FCC. It’s likely these estimates are low because stations don’t always file political contracts immediately.

In the 6th, the two candidates account for only about 20 percent of the advertising. Instead, several outside groups are conducting a battle with primarily negative advertising.

Another PAC enters the fray

Those groups will be joined by the Giffords PAC, also known as Courage to Fight Gun Violence, beginning Sept. 25 through Oct. 15.

The political action committee, led by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, is spending at least $887,000 to oppose Coffman.

Giffords’ congressional career ended a year after she was shot in the head in a 2011 assassination attempt. She’s been campaigning to strengthen gun laws ever since.

Here’s a look at all the ad spending in the 6th thus far:

A big play for Republicans in state Senate battle

Meanwhile, Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, a Republican super PAC,  is spending nearly $710,000 on cable advertising in state Senate contests. The ads are airing from Sept. 11 through Election Day, and appear to target three key districts in Jefferson and Adams counties. 

The group, according to FCC records, is spending:

  • More than $268,000 in Senate District 24, where state Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, is challenging GOP Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Adams County
  • More than $246,000 in Senate District 20, where state Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and GOP business owner Christine Jensen are battling for an open seat
  • Nearly $196,000 in Senate District 16, where GOP Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, is being challenged by Democrat Tammy Story

Combined with prior ads by the Colorado Economic Leadership Fund, cable political advertising the three districts is set to top $1 million by interests supporting Republicans, who are trying to hold on to a one-seat majority in the state Senate.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis remains the top advertiser overall, with $4.7 million thus far. That’s nearing his primary election spending.

Here’s a look at all general election TV ad spending based on contracts filed through Sept. 14:

Each week the Colorado Sun examines political TV advertising contracts filed by Colorado TV and cable networks with the FCC. Read more about why and how we do this analysis.