Candidates outspending expectations

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SALT LAKE CITY -- This year's hotly contested political elections are being reflected in a surge of advertising, particularly on TV. This late push is adding more drama to what's already been a topsy-turvy year.

The unpredictability of this political year has been clearly reflected in the advertising we're being exposed to -- on billboards, on radio, in mailers and on TV. On Nov. 1, the day before Election Day, it's pretty much inescapable.

According to longtime Utah public relations executive Tom Love 2010 will go down as a surprisingly busy and expensive election year when reflected in ads.

"I think it's bigger than most anyone expected. I think the expectations, from talking to my friends in TV and radio, were that it was going to be healthy; and it's better than healthy, it's robust," Love said.

KSL's director of sales, Dale Darling, agrees; and the money's been local.

"It's better than anyone would have predicted, maybe 20 to 30 percent better. Not a lot of outside money impacted that," he said.

Driving events this year included a contentious GOP primary race for U.S. Senate that saw incumbent Bob Bennett toppled. Then Democrat Peter Corroon took to the airwaves with tough ads directed at the governor, who also advertised heavily.

Recently it's been the Matheson/Philpot race that's drawing plenty of ad dollars, with both trying to tap into the larger national trends.

Evan Tweed, campaign media strategist for Morgan Philpot, said, "I think things really have changed, the game has changed. We, the people, are back. We, the people, are ticked."

Utah's political ad market, including TV, radio, billboards, newspaper ads and direct mail, is estimated to be as large as $6 million to $7 million this year, the biggest in at least half a decade.

"I think it's a very, very big year. And guess what? We get to do it again in two years," Love said.

Two years from now, there will be another race for governor, plus there will also be a campaign for the senate seat currently held by Sen. Orrin Hatch.


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John Daley


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