In Florida special election, $8 million in television ads

Republican David Jolly, left, and Democrat Alex Sink, who along with Libertarian Lucas Overby, are candidates for Florida's congressional District 13, chat onstage during a break as they participate in a candidate forum in Clearwater, Fla. (Brian Blanco/ Reuters) Republican David Jolly, left, and Democrat Alex Sink, who along with Libertarian Lucas Overby, are candidates for Florida’s congressional District 13, chat onstage during a break as they participate in a candidate forum in Clearwater, Fla. (Brian Blanco/ Reuters)

A pitched battle over a closely-divided House district in Florida’s biggest media market is lining the pockets of Tampa television station owners with more than $8 million in advertisements.

Democrat Alex Sink’s campaign has dumped $1.5 million on TV ads, while Republican David Jolly’s campaign has spent significantly less — $352,988, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

But Jolly’s deficit is being made up, in part, with outside spending. A total of seven outside groups have spent more than six figures on television advertising, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

On the Republican side, four outside groups have spent $3.2 million on ads. The National Republican Congressional Committee leads the way, with $1.76 million in spending, while the Chamber of Commerce has spent another $745,000 on their own ads. The American Action Network, a pro-Republican 501(c)(4), and American Crossroads have each spent a little over $350,000.

Democratic outside groups have spent about the same on Sink’s behalf. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has dropped $2 million, while the House Majority PAC, AAN’s Democratic counterpart, has spent $731,000. The League of Conservation Voters is in for about $346,000 too.

Public polls have showed an increasingly tight race, and Democrats are worried that momentum has swung to Jolly in recent days. A poll conducted for the Chamber of Commerce, which backs Jolly, showed the Republican leading by two points, well within the margin of error; the most recent poll conducted for a media outlet, about two weeks ago, showed Sink leading by seven.

We stopped by The Daily Rundown to talk about the race this morning.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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Niraj Chokshi · February 26, 2014

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