If you haven't heard yet, Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg both raised $1.2 million last quarter in their highly contested, nationally significant race for U.S. Senate. That leaves Tester with $4.28 million in the bank, and Rehberg with $2.7 million as the general election approaches. The numbers are as astronomical as expected in such an important race, and pundits are now turning their attention to where all that money will go: Montana's affordable airwaves.
Montana also is a state where television time is cheap, so voters there can expect a barrage of negative attacks from both sides flooding the airwaves from now until Nov. 6.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is already marking its ground with an unprecedentedly early media buy. According to Roll Call and The Hill, the NRSC reserved $25 million in ad space for the fall election, with $3.5 million set aside for Montana. "It's almost unheard of for campaign committees to begin reserving ad time this early in the cycle ... Some states could run out of available airtime long before the election, something that happened near the end of the 2008 campaign," wrote The Hill.
The amount the NRSC is committing to this race is enormous given the cost of advertising in Montana. In 2006, according to MSU-Billings political science professor Craig Wilson's chapter on the Tester-Burns race, the DSCC spent $1.9 million on television ads in support of Tester's bid to unseat Senator Conrad Burns. The NRSC that same year spent $608,000 on TV supporting Senator Burns' reelection bid. The volume of money being spent by the Republicans is indicative of how important they view this race to gaining the Senate majority. Records in Montana will be broken without a doubt.
And it may be December until we see Monte again in one of those vintage Mountain States Collision commercials.