- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island had the highest per-voter spending on TV ads in the country leading up to the Sept. 9 primary, with an estimated $5.8 million worth of spots aired, or nearly $8 per eligible voter, according to a new analysis.

The Center for Public Integrity said Wednesday the state’s five leading gubernatorial candidates spent $4.5 million on TV ads through the day before the primary. The vast majority was in the Democratic primary by Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and first-time candidate Clay Pell.

The figures include spending on local broadcast, national network and national cable TV ads, but not local cable or radio ads. The data are estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG based on a formula, so they may not reflect the exact cost of the buys.

The center, which is based in Washington, D.C., said the three Democrats aired more than 11,100 spots, including 4,346 for Pell at an estimated cost of $1.5 million and 4,245 for Raimondo at a cost of $1.6 million. Taveras spent an estimated $1 million for 2,526 spots, according to the data.

Raimondo won the primary with 42 percent of the vote.

Spending on the Republican side by Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Ken Block was much less, totaling $332,000. Fung, who won the nomination, accounted for about $170,000 of that total.

The analysis also included other statewide races. It said $161,500 was spent on TV ads in the lieutenant governor’s race; $664,400 on the treasurer’s race; and $507,600 in the race for secretary of state.

TV spending on all state races combined in Rhode Island translated to $7.77 per eligible voter, the highest in the U.S., according to the center. The figure for Massachusetts, by contrast, was $1.47 per voter.

By the same time in 2010, Rhode Island had seen roughly $1.2 million in TV ad spending, the center said, compared to the $5.8 million spent by Sept. 8.

Overall spending in the 2014 governor’s contest alone hit the $13 million mark before the primary, making it the most expensive race in Rhode Island history already. The general election is Nov. 4.

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