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Show-Me State leads the way in TV ad spending on state contests

Screen captures from ads by Democrat Chris Koster, top, and Republican Eric Greitens
Screen captures from ads by Democrat Chris Koster, top, and Republican Eric Greitens

If you think you’re being bombarded with TV ads for Missouri’s governor’s contest, you’re right. The Missouri governor’s race is the top state-level contest in the country, when it comes to ad spending, and ads airing.

That’s according to the Center for Public Integrity, an award-winning nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks political spending. It says that Missouri’s battle for governor, including last summer’s nasty GOP primary, is responsible for about 27 percent of the nation’s TV ads aired for state-level contests this year, and about 13 percent of the ad spending.

The center is using data compiled by Kantar Media/CMAG, a nationally recognized firm that monitors TV ads and spending.

The bulk of those ads, and the spending, is tied to the Missouri duo battling on Nov. 8: Republican Eric Greitens and Democrat Chris Koster.

According to the center, as of Monday, Greitens has spent the most on ads -- $11.4 million compared to $9.1 million for Koster. Greitens also has aired the most spots: 29,755 compared to Koster’s 22,532.

The Koster/Greitens contest is significantly more expensive, ad-wise, than its counterpart in the No. 2 ad-spending state, North Carolina, which also is seeing a hot battle for governor.

All told, only 12 governors’ races in the country are on Nov. 8 ballots, because most states hold their contests for governor during off-year elections.

The center says that those governors races “dominate the airwaves’’ and account for almost half of the TV ads aired about state races.

Nationwide, 640,773 state-race ads have aired so far, at an estimated overall cost of $262.1 million.

And about 20 percent of that money has been spent on Missouri contests, from governor on down.According to the center’s tally, an estimated $54 million has been spent on Missouri political ads for its state races – excluding the hot battle for the U.S. Senate. That breaks down to about $12.55 for each of the state’s 4.3 million registered voters.

According to the center’s breakdown, the St. Louis region is seeing the most state-race ads: 35,687 spots have aired as of Monday.

So yes, you really are seeing a flood of state-race ads.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.