Minnesota state House candidates bet on football

It will cost some suburban Minnesota House candidates $1,250 for a better shot at exposure to area voters during the Monday Night Football game between the hometown Vikings and the Chicago Bears on Halloween.

How do we know? They’ve already plunked down the money for campaign ads on cable TV.

A small number of incumbents — so far — have lined up ad time for the remaining weeks of the fall campaign, according to cable contracts publicly available through the Federal Communications Commission.

TV campaign commercials are still relatively rare in state legislative races because candidate budgets tend to be small and ads usually come through the mail. For those ads that do get on television, cable is more affordable than broadcast stations. Legislative race TV ads from outside groups are more common, but candidates have no control over the messaging.

First-term Republican Rep. Roz Peterson of Lakeville started to air cable ads in her district on Monday. In all, she has reserved just shy of $12,000 in ad time for 265 airings on stations including CNN, the Food Network, MTV and the Weather Channel. More than a tenth of that cost will be chewed up by the 30-second spot during the Bears-Vikings game on ESPN a little more than a week before the Nov. 8 election.

Peterson faces DFLer Lindsey Port in a race to which both parties are devoting plenty of attention.

Rep. Jon Applebaum, DFL-Minnetonka, is also banking on a lot of TVs in his district being tuned to the Vikings game on Oct. 31. That one half-minute spot accounts for almost 20 percent of the total TV time he’s purchased to date. Some of Applebaum’s ads will run during cable news coverage of the presidential debates and Bravo’s “Real Housewives” shows.

Applebaum is pursuing a second term and has Republican Patti Meier as a challenger.

Republican Rep. Kelly Fenton of Woodbury got a better deal than the others with her ad purchase because she acted earlier. Fenton, another first-termer, reserved her time in June and only had to fork over $625 for her ad during the Monday Night Football game. She’s also going for the Gophers’ fan base, paying $375 to advertise during the University of Minnesota’s game against Purdue the Saturday before the election.

Fenton is working to fend off DFL challenger Alberder Gillespie.

Fenton has so far locked in 290 cable commercials _ they started running last week and will continue through the election _ for a total of $7,156. She is spreading them across a greater array of stations, from Animal Planet and AMC to Fox News and CNBC to TV Land and WE TV (where one rotation can be as cheap as $9).