- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida’s race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist is second only to Pennsylvania on the money spent on television ads in a gubernatorial race, according to a study being released Wednesday.

Most of the $32 million spent in Florida’s governor’s race has been on ads that back Scott or criticize Crist, according to a study by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, which researched data from of Kantar Media/CMAG on television ad spending across the nation by candidates for state offices.

And far more than any other state, the money being pumped into Florida’s governor’s race is coming through political committees set up for the candidates or political parties rather than through candidates’ individual campaigns, the study shows.

For example, “Let’s Get to Work,” a political committee backing Scott’s re-election, and the Republican Party of Florida combined to spend $20.6 million on ads, compared to just $176,300 by Scott’s official campaign. Likewise, the Florida Democratic Party has spent $8.9 million on ads backing Crist or attacking Scott, compared to not quite $1 million spent by the Crist campaign, the study shows.

NextGen Climate Action, an environmental group attacking Scott, has spent $1.2 million in Florida and was the only independent group spending money on the race, according to the study.

In Florida, candidates can only accept donations of up to $3,000 per voter, but they can set up political committees that aren’t subject to donation limits. That means the committees that support Crist and Scott collect and spend significantly more than their individual campaign accounts. In Crist’s case, his political committee, “Charlie Crist for Florida,” has been giving the Florida Democratic Party money for campaign ads.

The Center for Public Integrity tracked spending in state political campaigns, which includes governor, cabinet and legislative races. Of the $22.7 million spent on campaign ads by political parties across the nation, $18.8 was spent by the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Democratic Party, or about 83 percent, the group found.

The study found that about $37.8 million has been spent in the Pennsylvania governor’s race between Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

The study isn’t an exact picture of campaign advertising spending. It doesn’t include ads bought on local cable networks or internet ads. It also doesn’t count money spent producing the ads, but rather the cost for air time.

Of the ads tracked, Scott’s campaign, his political committee and the state GOP combined to run 45,531 ads through Sept. 8, compared to 16,134 run by Crist and the Florida Democratic Party.

NextGen Climate Action has run 2,341 ads attacking Scott.

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