Skip to contents
Politics and Government

After GOP group pulls ads for Mike Coffman, Democratic group cancels some of its spots for Jason Crow

TV ad spending in Colorado shows national gamesmanship as Democrats and Republicans battle for U.S. House

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, left, and his Democratic challenger, Jason Crow, on the right. (Photo illustration by Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
  • Credibility:

A Democratic super PAC that is working to defeat U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District will slash its spending on TV commercials, but other outside groups may take up the slack.

The move comes after the Congressional Leadership Fund, a group affiliated with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, cut its TV time in the 6th District, where Coffman, the Republican incumbent, faces Democratic challenger Jason Crow.

House Majority PAC canceled at least $144,450 worth of ads scheduled from Oct. 16 to 22 on two Denver stations last week, according to Federal Communications Commission records reviewed by The Colorado Sun. The Democratic group plans to cut another $786,000 in TV ads, but it will continue to spend about $1.5 million on of ads to boost Crow in the two weeks running up to the election.

The gamesmanship showcases how precious dollars are this election year as Democrats attempt to retake the House by targeting vulnerable incumbents, and Republicans seek to save their majority.

None of the FCC filings through Sept. 27 reflected the Congressional Leadership Fund cuts, and it’s worth noting that stations don’t always file canceled contracts for TV time.

To help fill the gap, the National Republican Congressional Committee is scheduled to enter the battle being played out via TV, mail and on the ground with its own spending. According to Politico, that group will add $600,000 worth of ads.

The hotly contested district remains the most expensive TV ad battle in the state, despite a high-profile gubernatorial contest and new spending in the 3rd Congressional District.

On the Democratic side, the Giffords PAC will extend its TV ad spending through Oct. 22, based on a contract filed by one Denver station late last week. The group affiliated with former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords recently came under fire for using the Platte Canyon High School shooting  in a campaign commercial as it spends heavily in the 6th District, buying ads opposing Coffman and supporting Crow based on gun control.

MORE: The anti-gun violence Giffords PAC is pouring $1.5 million-plus to unseat Republican Mike Coffman — more than the group has spent in any race thus far

It’s common for outside groups, which aren’t supposed to coordinate with candidates, to coordinate with each other on strategy. The continued Giffords PAC ad buys would allow House Majority PAC to focus on contests in other states as Democrats try to take back the House.

Here’s a look at TV ad spending by political contest in Colorado:

These numbers are based on contracts filed with the FCC through Sept. 28. Not all stations, especially those in Denver, file outside spending contracts for state races such as governor or attorney general, so the totals are likely low.

Some highlights based on recent filings

Other highlights from the TV ad records show:

  • In the 3rd Congressional District, Democratic challenger and former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush began airing ads last week in the district that spans Western Colorado through the San Luis Valley to Pueblo. Her one-week buy totaled more than $52,000. Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton hits the airwaves Wednesday, with nearly $300,000 worth of ads scheduled through Election Day.
  • Democratic super PAC Coloradans for Fairness bought a week’s worth of cable TV ads in four key state Senate districts for more than $165,000. Those are among the five districts where two GOP groups have been airing cable ads since August, with ads scheduled through Election Day.
  • Democratic super PAC Our Colorado Values spent more than $136,000 for about three weeks worth of cable ads in three state House districts.
  • Oil and gas company Noble Energy is airing ads encouraging voters to oppose Proposition 112, which would require a 2,500 foot setback from development for oil and gas operations. The company is spending at least $130,000 on the campaign, which is separate from the larger effort by Protect Colorado to defeat the measure.
  • Colorado’s Shared Heritage is spending at least $595,000 on TV ads supporting Amendment 74, which would require government to reimburse property owners if regulations (such as those on oil and gas) reduce the value of their property. Thus far, virtually of Shared Heritage’s money has come from the oil-and-gas industry super PAC Protect Colorado.

Monday Night Football political ad throwdown

ESPN’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs will be a political ad fest.

  • Coffman and Crow are each spending $7,912 to air ads during the game targeting the 6th District.
  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis is spending $15,750 in the Denver market, $3,675 in Colorado Springs and $750 in Grand Junction to get his face on TV.
  • Just filed Monday morning, a $12,210 buy in the Denver market by former state Sen. Penfield Tate as he joins the nonpartisan Denver mayoral contest, challenging incumbent Michael Hancock.
  • Other candidates and issue committees also will likely be on the air too.

By the time the ballots are counted on Nov. 6, nearly $34.6 million will have been spent on political ads on traditional and cable TV in Colorado for the general election, with spending of $49.3 million for the year.

Here’s a look at all general election political ad spending by advertiser for those spending $25,000 or more:

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.