As their race enters its final stretch, Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski are taking their fight to be Connecticut’s next governor to one of the nation’s most expensive media markets — New York broadcast stations.
Lamont has purchased about $500,000 of airtime on New York affiliates of CBS and NBC and on WNYW, a Fox station, to press his campaign against Stefanowski.
Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association’s political action committee, the Change PAC, said it has spent about $1.9 million to help Stefanowski’s candicacy with a last-minute blitz of advertising on those same stations.
Those New York stations broadcast deep into southwestern Connecticut, reaching viewers in Stamford, Bridgeport, and as far east as New Haven, or close to that voter-rich city.
Lamont’s new ad campaign also means that, although they can’t vote in the contentious and close Connecticut governor’s race, New Yorkers are now being bombarded with television ads, both negative and positive, about the candidates.
Public records of contracts with the television stations show the Lamont campaign has purchased air time to run his ads on those stations dozens of times each day through Tuesday’s Election Day.
The Change PAC contracts were not available. But Meredith Morton of Pinpoint Media, the company that purchases air time for the Change PAC, said that about $1.9 million in spots had been purchased to run ads supportive of Stefanowski’s campaign. The ads began running on Oct. 31.
“We’ve placed (the ads) on the stations and we’re on the air,” she said.
Although Lamont is spending less money than the Change PAC in the New York media market, the Democratic candidate, under federal law, is required to be offered the “lowest unit rate” for airtime, which means his budget may go further. Political action committees usually can’t take advantage of those cheaper rates.
Independent gubernorial candidate Oz Griebel has run ads in Connecticut, but has not purchased any air time in New York.
Lamont and Stefanowski, meanwhile, have for weeks flooded Connecticut airwaves with their ads. Lamont has paid millions of dollars out of his own pocket to finance his ad campaign, while the Change PAC has spent millions of dollars helping Stefanowski bolster his adverting budget, first in Connecticut and now in New York.
Lamont released documents earlier this month that showed an average adjusted gross income of $3.6 million in each of the past five years, primarily in investment income, but those documents do not include his wife’s income. In a federal disclosure form filed when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2006, Lamont and his wife reported a net worth of between $90 million and $332 million, with much of it attributed to Annie Lamont. There is no similar disclosure requirement for state candidates in Connecticut.
Stefanowski and his wife, Amy, released joint tax documents showing adjusted gross incomes of $6.9 million in 2016 and $9.7 million in 2017.
The Democratic Governors Association said it does not need to give Lamont the same kind of help Stefanowski is receiving from Change PAC because he is a wealthy businessman who can afford to pay for his television ads.
“Democrats have consistently had more TV investment than Republicans throughout the Connecticut governor’s race,” said DGA spokesman Jared Leopold. “Ned Lamont is running a strong campaign that is resonating with Connecticut voters, and communicating across the state.”