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August 11, 2008

Buchanan Drops Big Ad Bucks

In 2006, it was the most expensive House race of the year, costing the two candidates more than $11 million combined. This year, the rematch between freshman Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan and banker Christine Jennings, the likely Democratic nominee, could be just as costly.

Buchanan, who won a tight victory in 2006 after spending millions of his own money and $8 million in total, has already reserved $3 million in television ads in the Tampa and Sarasota markets over the last two months of the campaign, supplemented by about $220,000 in radio advertising in Tampa.

With a total of 14,350 points already purchased, Buchanan's buy represents almost twice the amount of cash his campaign reported on hand at the end of the second quarter, meaning the first-term Republican is expecting a big third quarter fundraising performance or is willing to dip into his own wallet again.

Buchanan's television blitz starts the day after Labor Day and slowly grows from 700 points a week to 2000 points during the final week before Election Day (A point is a measure of how frequently the advertisement is played; 2000 points, which is considered saturation level, means the average television viewer will see an ad twenty times in a week).

Democratic rival Jennings, seeking a rematch, had $578,000 on hand after June, a small improvement over the $504,000 she had on hand through the end of the second quarter during her 2006 bid. A Jennings spokeswoman said her candidate would be up with television ads this week, but that final details had yet to be worked out.