- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff has outspent Gov. Butch Otter on political television advertisements as he tries to unseat the incumbent Republican.

An analysis released Wednesday by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity found that Balukoff spent more than $500,000 to air nearly 2,800 state-level advertisements as of Sept. 8. Otter, meanwhile, has spent nearly $121,000 on little more than 500 political television ads in the same time period.

The statewide ads have all been positive messages, according to the organization, and have not yet targeted their opponent.

The center’s review is limited in that it didn’t review money spent on ads on radio, online and direct mail. It also didn’t include money spent on local cable or on production costs, which means the total cost of political ad spending may be significantly higher for each candidate.

Balukoff -a businessman and chairman of the Boise School Board- is running against Otter, who is seeking a third term.

“From Day 1, he has said he’s going to do whatever it takes to win,” said Mike Lanza, Balukoff’s campaign spokesman. “This is part of the plan.”

Otter’s campaign did not respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.

How Balukoff compares to former Otter opponents when it comes to overall campaign spending is still unknown. The first round of campaign finance reports aren’t due for Idaho candidates running in the general election until Oct. 10.

What is known, though, is that Idaho’s gubernatorial candidates are the main reason why this year’s spending on political ads is almost five times as much as what was spent in 2010. Four years ago, Idaho candidates spent a combined $161,440 for 1,391 ads.

Nationally, Idaho ranked fairly low in political television advertisements to states with more competitive races such as Pennsylvania -which ranked the highest- where the total estimated cost on political ads was $37.8 million.

However, Idaho spending is the highest in the region. Candidates in Washington, Oregon and Montana have spent a combined $149,700 on television ads.

The Washington-based organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot.

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