Spending in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate contest is expected to top $100 million, which could buy a lot in a poor state like this one.
The campaigns and aligned groups for Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes are putting much of that cash into television ads.
In a report this week, the Center for Public Integrity found that through late August, the McConnell and Grimes teams in addition to outside groups have spent $11.8 million bombarding Kentuckians with approximately 37,500 in TV ads.
In many respects, the large amount of money being raised and spent is of McConnell’s own making as the lead voice against limits on campaign cash.
Earlier this year, McConnell was “extraordinarily helpful” in a Supreme Court decision overturning overall campaign gift limits. Reviews of this year’s campaign finance expenditures in Kentucky show outside groups are outpacing the candidates by about $2 million.
The non-partisan center’s data shows 70 percent of those TV spots come from Republican candidates or GOP-aligned groups, including spending from the GOP primary battle McConnell faced against Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.
Republican-leaning groups are outperforming their Democratic counterparts in TV ads run by an almost 3-to-1 margin.
Leading the pack is the pro-McConnell group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a non-profit that has run around 9,300 ads at a $3.3 million price tag. Founded in 2008, Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is organized as a 501(c)4 group that is not required to disclose its donors.
“We are pleased to have the resources to educate citizens about important issues affecting Kentucky,” said Republican strategist Scott Jennings, the group’s senior adviser.
The overall cost in Kentucky is the fifth most in a Senate race thus far, according to the center.