- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Thanks largely to the $10 million that Democrat Tom Wolf put up to jump-start his gubernatorial campaign, Pennsylvania leads the nation in spending on TV ads by candidates for statehouse offices and their allies, according to a national survey.

The survey released Wednesday by the Center for Public Integrity shows candidates for Pennsylvania governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature spent an estimated $37.8 million to place commercials through Sept. 8 in the two-year election cycle that started in 2013.

Close behind were Texas at $36.8 million and Florida at $33.7 million.

In Pennsylvania, the expenditures so far have paid for 56,000 ads - each ad is counted every time it airs - at a cost per voter of $3.99, the survey shows.

Wolf, a wealthy businessman who for months has led Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by a wide margin in independent polls, has spent more than $11 million on TV, mostly ads promoting his candidacy. Wolf aired 13,600 positive ads and 3,228 that mixed a pro-Wolf message with criticism of Corbett.

Corbett, who unlike Wolf had no competition in the May primary, invested $9.5 million in TV commercials on about 16,000 ads. They included nearly 8,000 anti-Wolf ads and about 5,300 ads touting his record and experience.

Wolf’s campaign has been aided by some outside groups that sponsored anti-Corbett ads.

They include PA Families First, an independent committee financed mainly by the Democratic Governors Association, which aired 2,300 anti-Corbett spots at a cost of $1.8 million. NextGen Climate Action, led by hedge fund manager Tom Steyer’s nonprofit that backs candidates who support environmental causes, paid $1.1 million for nearly 1,500 ads.

TV expenditures by candidates for the Legislature were approaching $1 million, according to the survey.

Of the total expenditures for TV, the candidates paid $34.5 million, while outside groups shelled out $3.3 million, the survey showed.

The Washington-based center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization, analyzed data from Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group. The group monitors TV signals for political ads, counts them and then uses a proprietary formula to estimate how much it costs to place each ad. The expenditure figures do not include production costs.

The general election is Nov. 4.

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