Candidates increase mass media expenditures

MONTPELIER — Candidates for the state’s top two offices are ramping up spending on mass media as they look to reach voters and spread their message as the Aug. 9 primary approaches.

State law requires candidates to report any spending of at least $500 on mass media activity within 45 days of an election. For the Aug. 9 primary, mandated reported began on June 25. Since then, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith has reported the highest spending on media.

Peter Galbraith

Peter Galbraith

According to a mass media report filed with the Secretary of State’s office, Galbraith, a former diplomat and Windham County state senator, has paid $69,320 to Screen Strategies Media in Fairfax, Va., for television advertising. The firm, according to its website, is “a full service media strategy, planning and buying agency.”

Galbraith’s campaign released its first television ad Tuesday, saying it is part of a planned “six-figure media buy” in the Burlington market and on cable and the internet. The ad campaign “will highlight Galbraith’s progressive record and agenda,” according to the campaign.

“As governor, I’ll stand up for our families. A $15 minimum wage and free tuition at Vermont State Colleges. And I’ll pay for it by ending special interests tax breaks, so they pay their fair share,” Galbraith says in the 30-second spot.

Galbraith’s two primary opponents, Sue Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation, and Matt Dunne, a former Google executive and Windsor County state senator, have also spent big on television advertising.

Minter’s filing with the Secretary of State’s office includes two separate payments to GMMB Inc., in Washington, D.C. The first, on June 30, was for $44,659. The second, on June 27, was for $10,767. GMMB bills itself as a leading media buying and production firm. Minter is up on the air with a 30-second commercial that focuses on Minter’s work helping the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene.

Dunne, meanwhile, has paid $26,465 to The New Media Firm in Washington, D.C., on July 1. The firm provides consulting, planning, production and purchasing of media. Dunne also paid $2,500 to Stones’ Phones in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for robo calls.

Dunne has so far launched two television ads. Both ads look to tie Dunne to Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination for president has focused on a progressive agenda.

On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott reported $14,320 in mass media spending, but none on television advertising. Scott, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2010, has yet to air television ads — a sign that his campaign is confident in its lead over primary rival Bruce Lisman, a retired Wall Street executive.

Lisman has aired several commercials but has not filed a mass media report since the 45-day reporting window began.

Scott’s spending is on four separate items, including $5,067 on graphic design from Jet Service Envelope Company in East Barre, $4,308 for a mass mailing and $1,945 on another mass mailing. Scott has also spent $3,000 with Optimus Consulting LLC., in Washington, D.C., for radio advertising.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, only Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman, who serves as a both a Progressive and a Democrat, has filed a mass media report. Zuckerman spent $2,540 for advertising on buses with the Chittenden County Transportation Authority. Zuckerman faces House Speaker Shap Smith and Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram in a Democratic primary. Former state auditor and state senator Randy Brock is running as Republican.

neal.goswami@timesargus.com

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