Election campaigns spend millions
Gary Pinnell | Highlands TodaySEBRING - One million ads. One billion dollars. Ten battleground states.
Published: November 18, 2012
Published: November 18, 2012
Those eye-popping figures told the story of the 2012 presidential campaign TV ad blitz. That much money was spent on so many commercials aimed at so few voters.
Perhaps just as mind boggling were the millions raised locally by powerful candidates with weak opposition.
Starting at the top, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, gathered $1,025,369 and spent $842,539 for re-election to Congress.
One opponent, Joe Arnold, R-Okeechobee, raised only $13,714, and lost in the August Republican primary. Two other opponents, William Bronson, D-Lehigh Acres, and Tom Baumann, a Socialist from Miami, never filed reports, according to the Federal Election Commission website.
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Bill Nelson raised $12,372,730 to keep his U.S. Senate seat in a hot contest with Republican Connie Mack, who raised $6,203,589,
Bobbie Bean of Sebring also raised $10,399.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Denise Grimsley's campaign for a Senate seat received relatively little statewide attention, except in one way: Grimsley, R-Sebring, collected $914,348 from 2,787 contributors, making her second to the top in fundraising for the Nov. 6 legislative elections.
Her opponent, Stacy Anderson McCland, D-St. Cloud, squeezed by on $8,412 from 55 contributors.
Last week's deadline for filing finance reports offer an almost-final snapshot of how much money had been flying into campaigns. Candidates still have until next year for a final wrap up.
The reports show powerful lawmakers raking in money during the 2012 election cycle — whether or not they had much competition. They also show the financial dominance of Republican candidates across the state and detail high-profile Senate races in which candidates combined to collect more than $1 million.
A dozen Republican Senate candidates, many of them in powerful positions, topped $500,000 in contributions for this year's elections.
Similarly, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, raised $1,185,030 for her fierce election fight against fellow incumbent Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton, in District 34 in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Sachs took in $543,852.
Following Grimsley and Bogdanoff, the next-highest fundraiser was incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who faced only a no-party opponent but still collected $716,775 in contributions.
Rounding out the top five was Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican who raised $698,165 in another low-profile race in Senate District 30.
Among House candidates, the top fundraiser was Lake Mary Republican Chris Dorworth, in line to become House speaker in 2014. Dorworth collected $544,072 for his House District 29 campaign, knocking off two primary opponents and facing Maitland Democrat Mike Clelland on Tuesday.
Newly elected State Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, raised $193,176 in his freshman fundraising effort against Democrat Crystal Drake of Moore Haven, who came on strong at the end to wind up with a respectable $42,513.
The second-highest House total was posted by incoming Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who did not draw an opponent this year but raised $427,900 anyway.
Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, was next at $422,080. He was followed by two incumbents in tough election fights: Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican who collected $403,946, and Rep. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican who raised $389,631.
The proliferation of campaign commercials was fueled by an unprecedented level of spending. The candidates, parties and groups spent more than $1.08 billion total on commercials since April, according to data compiled by media trackers and provided to The Associated Press.
But the ads were directed at an ever-shrinking universe of voters.
Nine states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — saw the vast majority of the campaign spots, with a 10th state, Pennsylvania, emerging late in the campaign as an advertising battleground as well.
Both sides also made smaller buys in Democratic-leaning Michigan and Minnesota, but did little else to suggest either state was seriously in play.
It's a sharp drop from 2008, when those states, along with New Mexico, Missouri, Indiana, Montana, Georgia and North Dakota, were considered battlegrounds and saw a heavy round of campaign commercials from the candidates and independent groups alike. This year, almost no one outside of the 10 major swing states has seen a presidential campaign ad except for a few national cable and broadcast buys.
Obama and Democratic-leaning groups spent approximately $460 million on the airwaves, the vast majority coming from the president's campaign. Romney and the Republican groups spent $624 million, more than half of which came from outside groups.
The Associated Press and the News Service of Florida contributed to this report email@example.com (863) 386-5828