Candidates flock to St. Louis, and its TV stations, for final appeal to voters
For all the bashing that the St. Louis area often receives in the state Capitol, it’s a fact that many Missouri legislators – and all the statewide officeholders – need the St. Louis region’s votes.
That helps explain why Republican lieutenant governor hopeful Brad Lager, a state senator from western Missouri, spent his last day of campaigning in the St. Louis area.
“St. Louis has a good portion of our population and almost 50 percent of the economic activity,’’ said Lager, as he shook hands Monday with supporters, fellow politicians and customers at McArthur’s Bakery in downtown Kirkwood.
“In this primary, 30-33 percent of the vote will come from the St. Louis region,’’ Lager added.
Kirkwood is generally Republican turf, so the odds were good that Lager would run across potential voters in his Tuesday primary contest with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who also has strong political ties in the region.
With polls opening in less than 24 hours, candidates are focusing on any last-minute ways of attracting the voters’ attention and persuading them to turn out.
Mail deliveries Monday and Tuesday will see the last of the fliers packing mailboxes, telephones will be hit with a final blitz of robo-calls -- and the final flurry of TV ads are filling every affordable minute of TV time.
Many candidates are directing their spots to the local TV news shows on all area broadcast and cable stations, while others, including Lager, are even running ads during the costlier Olympics coverage on KSDK-TV (Channel 5), the local NBC affiliate.
Ad buys now can be tracked online
As of Friday, stations now must post their political TV ad buys on the Federal Communication Commission’s website – a boon to news-gatherers and rival campaigns. Stations previously had required anyone interested in monitoring the ad buys to show up in person and comb through stacks of ad orders.
Although glitches have hampered the accessibility of some orders on the FCC’s site, a few – including Lager’s – could be viewed. His order provides a glimpse at the overall hefty spending underway by many candidates, especially Republicans competing for lieutenant governor, governor and the U.S. Senate.
Records show that Lager’s campaign had booked close to $170,000 in TV ad spots on St. Louis area broadcast stations since just last Tuesday. That figure excludes cable-TV buys, which did not appear to be displayed on the FCC site.
Kinder's ad spending had yet to be posted on the site.
St. Louis businessman John Brunner, one of three major Republicans running for the U.S. Senate, also had ordered close to $160,000 in local TV ad spots on broadcast stations during the last two weeks, according to the FCC’s site.
(Update) Brunner’s two GOP rivals – former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood – are spending far less. The documents show that Akin has been spending about $60,000 on local broadcast stations in recent weeks, while Steelman has spent just over $10,000.
Both candidates have been airing their ads on cable stations, which generally charge less. Cable spending was unavailable on the FCC site. (End of update)
Kirkwood businessman Dave Spence, who is running for governor, already has spent more than $2 million statewide on ads. The FCC site had yet to post documents on hwo much he had spent in the St. Louis area. Ditto for Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who has no serious primary challenger but has begun to run ads anyway.
The upshot: The documents indicate that at least $1 million appears to have been spent, just in the last two weeks, on political TV ads in the St. Louis market.
Such spending underscores what Lager said at the Kirkwood bakery: St. Louis area votes could make the difference in Tuesday’s primaries.