Report: Big bucks already spent on ads for 2020 candidates in Michigan

Bloomberg has spent $6.6M alone

By: - January 22, 2020 5:01 am

One of the ubiquitous Michael Bloomberg ads playing in Michigan | Susan J. Demas

A new report shows almost $18.6 million has been spent on political ads since 2019, and Michael Bloomberg, a Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor, is leading the pack.

Bloomberg, who is self-funded, has spent about $6.6 million in the last eight weeks running TV ads, according to data from the firm Advertising Analytics and a review of FCC filings done by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN), a nonpartisan nonprofit that follows money in Michigan politics.

His campaign has aired 13 different ads more than 7,600 times in Michigan. In 2020, they have represented 79% of all political advertisements on Michigan TV. The ads cover a number of topics, including Donald Trump, the economy, the environment and health care.

Tom Steyer, another billionaire self-funded Democratic presidential hopeful,  is the only other candidate with significant airtime in Michigan, but his airtime in 2020 has been less than 10% that of Bloomberg’s. 

For the 2016 primary — which did not feature an incumbent — Democrats and Republicans combined spent a little more than $10.6 million

Bloomberg, who is spending an average of about $741,000 a week, is on pace to outspend the 2016 total before Michigan’s primary date, which is about seven weeks away on March 10. 

Congressional spots

Since the beginning of 2019, about $5 million has already been spent on television advertising for three congressional races, which include the seats held by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly). 

The organizations Majority Forward and House Majority Forward, Democrats’ most prominent super PACs, have spent about $500,000 on each incumbent.

Republican John James, who is challenging Peters, out-fundraised Peters in multiple quarters last year, but Majority Forward and VoteVets Action Fund, another dark money group, have spent a combined $2.1 million on ads praising the senator. Better Future Michigan, a 501(c)(4) and Restoration PAC, a SuperPAC, have spent about $340,000 attacking Peters.

American Action Network, America First Policies, Presidential Coalition and the Republican National Committee have collectively spent more than $1 million running ads against Slotkin in the 8th District in the Lansing area and Southeast Michigan. 

In the 11th District held by Stevens in metro Detroit, opposition groups have spent about $468,000 on political advertisements. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.