After recent high-profile public rallies in the Puget Sound region, with thousands of attendees, presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also launched six-figure television ad campaigns, the first candidates in months to join former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the local airwaves.
Both progressive senators launched television ads in the Seattle area within the last week, with Warren spending close to $360,000 in the region and Sanders spending about $185,000, according to an analysis of disclosures filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Warren has already booked TV time through Washington’s March 10 primary, while Sanders ads are, so far, mostly scheduled to run through March 3, Super Tuesday, when 14 states hold primaries and which has the potential to reshape the Democratic primary. No other Democratic candidate has reported buying TV ads in Washington this year, according to FCC filings.
Sanders, the front-runner and early delegate leader, could firmly establish himself as the candidate to beat with strong performances on Super Tuesday in delegate-rich states like California and Texas. Or, with a more mixed result, the fractured field could remain wide open.
Warren has also bought airtime in the Spokane area, spending about $430,000 on Washington TV markets, her campaign said.
Sanders and Warren, whose ads started running only this week, have both bought time on Seattle’s major broadcast networks, including KING, KOMO, KIRO, KONG and Q13 Fox.
For months, Bloomberg, whose campaign is fueled entirely by his massive personal fortune, has had the local airwaves all to himself, while at the same time he, Sanders and Warren have been hiring on-the-ground staff and organizers in Washington.
Bloomberg has spent millions of dollars on TV ads in Washington since launching his campaign, and he continues to saturate the airwaves. But Bloomberg has no TV ads booked anywhere in the country beyond Super Tuesday, underscoring the date’s importance, according to Medium Buying, an ad buying firm.
Bloomberg has spent nearly $800,000 on ads in the Seattle area in just the last 10 days or so. His campaign declined to say how much he has spent in total on ads in Washington.
Bloomberg, whose personal wealth is estimated at well north of $50 billion, has spent close to a half-billion dollars on his campaign — an average of nearly $6 million a day — since he launched his campaign in November, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
One of the ads Warren is running in Washington directly attacks Bloomberg’s spending.
“You’ve probably seen more ads for Michael Bloomberg than the rest of us running for president put together,” Warren says in a voiceover, going on to describe how Bloomberg raised money for her Republican opponent when she ran for Senate. “Big money is powerful, but it doesn’t always win.”
Bloomberg, for his part, is running an ad that touts his business experience and his political work in funding gun-safety reforms and in shutting down coal-fired power plans. It even references his shaky performances in the Democratic debates he’s participated in and his essentially unlimited resources to fund his campaign.
“For president, do you want a debater or a doer?” the ad asks viewers. “Mike has the record and resources to beat Trump.”
Both Warren and Sanders are also running ads here in which their voice is almost entirely silent.
A Warren ad features a voiceover from former President Barack Obama, praising her in 2010, following the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Obama calls Warren “one of the country’s fiercest advocates for the middle class.”
Sanders’ ad is narrated by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, who has endorsed the Vermont senator and is the only Democrat in Washington’s congressional delegation to endorse a candidate so far.
Posing in front of the Seattle skyline and speaking over footage of Sanders’ rally two weeks ago at the Tacoma Dome, which drew 17,000 people, Jayapal, who Sanders endorsed early in her contested 2016 race for Congress, says “the system is corrupted by big corporations.”
“Bernie is supported by regular working people,” she says. “I trust him to fight for all of us in spite of it being hard.”