Pritzker spending more than Rauner team on TV ads, especially in Chicago market
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WASHINGTON — Democratic governor nominee J.B. Pritzker is spending more television ad money than his chief opponent, GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies, especially in the Chicago media market which covers the GOP vote rich suburbs, according to an analysis of broadcast and cable buys obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Sun-Times was provided information by a source tracking television spending, which is public information stations must disclose.
Through last Sunday, the Pritzker campaign has purchased about $14.7 million in the Chicago market compared to an estimated $10 million bought by Rauner and two groups supporting his election.
The Sun-Times has learned from another source –– this one close to the Pritzker campaign –– that a component of the formula Pritkzer is using to determine television buys is simply to mirror the orders placed to elect Rauner.
When Rauner cuts back or adds spending in a television market, there is a corresponding move by Pritzker, the source said.
This way, Pritzker doesn’t spend more than necessary.
The reality for Rauner, merely a mega millionaire, is that his campaign has some financial constraints.
Billionaire Pritzker, who so far has poured $161.5 million of his own money into his governor bid, has the cash to never let Rauner get ahead in cable and broadcast spending if it suits his strategy.
The nation is divided into media markets, which spill over state borders. Illinois has 10 media markets, including stations located in Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky and Indiana.
The market serving Chicago, the suburbs and the adjacent collar counties is the biggest in the state, with about 66 percent of the voters in Illinois.
Rauner, to duplicate his 2014 victory over then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, has to keep down the Pritzker vote in the Chicago suburbs by appealing to moderate Republicans and swing independent voters.
That Rauner is not competitive in television buys in the Chicago market is telling.
A reason is because Rauner and his allies have to fund spots in the rest of the state, where Republicans usually are a dependable base vote.
Rauner was almost defeated in the March Illinois primary by state Sen. Jeannie Ives, R-Wheaton, a conservative who still has not endorsed Rauner.
For those conservatives who cannot stomach voting for a Democrat or Rauner, an alternative emerged in the governor candidacy of state Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview.
He is running under a newly created “Conservative Party” brand while in reality he is bankrolled heavily by a Democratic leaning union.
McCann’s political purpose is to siphon or suppress Rauner votes.
Campaigns buy time in advance in crowded markets, such as St. Louis, where stations there are selling time for the giant Missouri Senate race.
The St. Louis market covers about 7 percent of Illinois voters and Pritzker has booked about $5.7 million in time compared to about $3 million for Rauner. The Metro East area, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, is fertile Democratic turf.
The figures I have reflect time booked that may be canceled or added to, so these numbers may change.
Statewide, Pritzker is on track to spend, as of Sunday, about $32 million on cable and broadcast with Rauner in the ballpark of about $25 million. Both campaigns have spent millions of dollars more on other forms of political advertising in print, direct mail and digital plays.
McCann is at about $1 million in television spending. McCann’s biggest buy, $299,200 for broadcast spots, is in the Champaign/Springfield market, which takes in about 8 percent of Illinois voters.
That market sweeps in McCann’s home base of Plainview.
Rauner is boosted with television spending by the Economic Freedom Alliance and State Solutions.
State Solutions is an affiliate of the Republican Governors Association and the Economic Freedom Alliance is a Republican allied SuperPac based in Chicago.
The U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Ronald Gidwitz, a major GOP donor and fundraiser, resigned as chairman of the EFA in May, and was replaced by another blue chip Republican, Greg Baise, the chairman of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.
The IMA is the major donor to the alliance, contributing about $1 million through Oct. 16, according to Illinois State Board of Elections disclosure records.
The Quincy media market, with 1.5 percent of the Illinois vote, covers central western Illinois, much of it Republican territory. Lesser funded Democrats would skip this market.
But Quincy is the home to a state-run veteran’s facility hit with a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, all on Rauner’s watch.
Rauner, State Solutions and the EFA through last Sunday booked $463,385 in the Quincy television market.
Pritzker met the ante and upped it a bit. He bought $500,372 in the Quincy market.