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The interior of the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver on Sept. 18, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton will hit the TV airwaves next week with more than $400,000 in campaign commercials just as the election enters a crucial period.

The campaign ads will begin Oct. 4, a day before the first major gubernatorial debate — hosted by CBS4, Colorado Public Television, KOA NewsRadio and The Colorado Sun — and 11 days before ballots will start to head to voters mailboxes. Stapleton’s campaign bought $432,000 in TV time through Sept. 21, but the final numbers may change before it airs.

Stapleton’s spending is a drop in the bucket compared with the $5 million that rival Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis has spent for ads in the general election, but Stapleton is getting more outside help than Polis on the TV front, according to records filed with the Federal Communications Commission and the Secretary of State.

In the governor’s race and elsewhere, outside political groups have spent $16.5 million for the general election, compared with $9.4 million by the candidates themselves.

The outside spending also is big in the 6th Congressional District race. But this week, Democrat Jason Crow is adding to his television ad time heading into the election’s final stretch.

His campaign will begin running a new 30-second spot highlighting Crow’s military service — he is a Bronze Star-decorated combat veteran — on Denver stations. It doesn’t mention his opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, but references Washington dysfunction.

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A Crow spokesman declined to say how much is being spent to air the ad nor how long it will run, but FCC records indicate the buy is at least $150,000 and runs through Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, Crow is getting considerably more help from national organizations than Coffman in the 6th District. As The Sun reported last week, $1 million or more is being spent each week on ads for that contest.

Here’s a comparison of political TV ad spending by candidates and outside groups in several of the major 2018 races based on FCC documents:

The RGA reported spending $2.2 million and Good Jobs $1.4 million on TV advertising through Sept. 12, considerably more than FCC contracts indicated.

It’s also worth noting that many of the ads from these outside groups are negative.

The candidates are airing negative ads in a few instances, but it’s worth checking the fine print and fact-checks from CBS4 on the ads from outside groups. A recent CBS4 Reality Check outlined the difference between candidate and super PAC ads.

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Through Friday, political TV ad spending in Colorado for the year totaled $46 million with $31.3 million of that aimed at the general election, according to contracts filed with the FCC.

Here’s a look at general election spending on political TV ads so far, as reported to the FCC:

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.

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Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...

Sandra Fish

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