Thursday, March 27, 2008

Big Bucks Headed Into NM TV Station Coffers; Primary Ad Spending Could Hit $4 Million, Plus: Even More Exclusive Political News On Your Thursday Blog 

We can predict one winner with certainty in this extraordinary election year--New Mexico's TV stations and their parent companies. My TV insiders report spending on the tube for the June 3rd primary could hit $4 million. They haven't even started to calculate the amount of cash that will be dropped on those ubiquitous thirty second ads for the November election, but throw in spending from a bunch of independent groups and you are talking huge dollars.

They get to the $4 million primary figure this way. GOP US Senate candidates Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce both have primary budgets that appear headed toward or over $2 million. Using a rule of thumb that about 60% of modern campaign budgets are spent on TV ads, the GOP senate race alone would account for at least $2 million, half the $4 million projected. Spending by the top funded congressional candidates for the three open US House seats makes up the other $2 million.

What are TV ads going to cost our intrepid contenders? We checked on the rates for the 10 p.m. news which is a must buy for the federal candidates. The TV mavens say the late news can be had for about a $1000 a pop on the three ABQ network affiliated stations, but that's for now. As we get closer to the primary--in May--candidates may have to spend up to $3500 to guarantee that their thirty second ad will make the 10 p.m. air.

You can see that a total campaign budget of less than $500,000 for a congressional candidate is going to be a problem if that candidate hopes to make any kind of splash on the tube. One upside for the poorer contenders--turnout for a primary is much lower than the general. Less expensive techniques, such as direct mail and phone banks, can have more impact in a smaller turnout election. Also, TV will be cheaper for Southern congressional candidates who can buy time at the Roswell affiliates and still cover most of the district.


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If they are going to spend $4 million, when will this electronic tsunami start? Steve Pearce and Don Wiviott have already been up on the air. We told you yesterday that our insiders say Dem Southern congressional contender Harry Teague will go on the air in a week. What about the Big Feet--Heather and Steve? If they are going to spend what the insiders think they will, they can't be more than a couple of weeks away.


Video on the Net is going to play a more prominent role in Campaign '08, mostly to rally the base votes of the candidates. ABQ Dem congressional candidate Martin Heinrich is first with a professionally produced spot exclusively for Internet viewing. The tag line on the spot is interesting. Heinrich says "we need more and better Democrats." Sounds like a subtle zinger aimed at the Dem controlled Congress which has disappointed many of the party faithful, especially when it comes to the Iraq war.


Our little ol' New Mexico is the place to be in 2008 for anyone who has a passion for politics. The nationals are starting to pay more attention as we get ready for the spring offensives. Read
all about it.

Former NM Democratic Party Executive Director Matt Farrauto has set up shop in Missouri, working as the campaign manager for Steve Gaw in Congressional District 09.

Gaw is a former speaker of the Missouri House. He is running in a race for an open seat that has attracted a number of GOP and Dem contenders. Republican US Rep. Kenny Hulshof is retiring. Farrauto came to NM from the East Coast and started here as Dem press secretary before graduating to ED.

And the woman who replaced Farrauto, attorney and Deming native Laura Sanchez, says she is back to work at the National Resources Defense Council after her stressful stint as Dem ED. Laura left shortly after the February 5th Democratic presidential caucus voting fiasco. I chatted her up at a recent party for unopposed ABQ Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas. She was mum on the circumstances of her departure, but glad to be back at her old stomping grounds. Josh Geise is the current ED.

I also ran into State Reps. Kiki Saavedra and Dan Silva at the Maestas event. Saavedra, in the state House since the 70's and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has a free ride this year--no Dem or GOP foes. Silva, chair of the House Transportation Committee, has no GOP foe in his heavy Dem West side district, but he does have primary opposition. Eleanor Chavez, who has been active with the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) is challenging Silva in the primary.


They're having fun with Hillary's Bosnia gaffe. "New" video now shows she did indeed come under fire during her '96 trip.


What happened to developer Chuck Gara who we were told was going to seek the GOP nomination for the ABQ NE Heights seat being vacated by Tim Cummins? Reports a friend of Gara's: "Gara has health problems and decided not to run. Otherwise, Ivonne Nelson wouldn't have jumped in." Former State Senator Michael Wiener and attorney Ned Fuller are the other GOP candidates in the June primary....

Barry Bitzer, freshly resigned as chief of staff to ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez, is setting up shop at DW Turner public relations. He is listed as a senior vice-president. Bitzer is challenging fellow Republican and Corrales area State Senator Steve Komadina in the June primary...

E-mail your news. Back tomorrow with more exclusive coverage of NM politics.

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