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Drowning in political ads

Published: Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 - 12:20 pm

The presidential race may be lackluster in solidly blue California this year, but it's not hard to see the congressional races in Sacramento – just turn on the television.

With three hotly contested races in freshly redrawn districts, TV viewers in the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto TV market have been inundated with nearly $20 million worth of ads bought by super PACs and other non-candidate groups.

The local market ranked second only to Las Vegas in the amount of political advertising activity – measured by the number of political ad buys and related filings with the Federal Communications Commission – for House races over the past week.

More than 95 percent of the ads bought by outside groups in the three districts are classified as negative – attacking one candidate in the race rather than expressing support for the other.

The ad spending leader – so far – is the eastern Sacramento County 7th Congressional District contest between Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Democrat Ami Bera, where outside groups have spent nearly $8 million.

Close behind is Congressional District 10 in the Modesto area, where $7 million has gone to ads mostly opposing Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and his Democratic challenger, Jose Hernandez.

In the Stockton-based Congressional District 9, 99 percent of the $3.3 million in ads are negative, attacking either Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, or his Republican opponent, Ricky Gill.

The biggest spenders in the three districts are the Republican National Congressional Committee ($4.9 million), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($2.4 million), House Majority PAC (Pro-Democratic, $1.1 million) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (pro-Republican, $1 million).

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