Republican candidate for governor Dick DeVos has spent more money on television advertising than any previous candidate for governor in Michigan according to the non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The Dick DeVos for Governor campaign committee has already spent $5.4 million on television advertising, despite the fact that the traditional campaign season does not begin for three months. Already, the DeVos and Granholm campaigns have raised and spent more money than any gubernatorial campaign committees in Michigan’s history according to MCFN Executive Director Rich Robinson. In the 2004 presidential election, candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry had spent $5.4 million and $3.9 million on television advertisements in the state. The Grand Rapids market—where DeVos is well known—has been the second most targeted area for advertisements. The data was collected by the MCFN in a review of the public files of 28 commercial broadcasters in the state and Comcast’s central office. While the numbers accurately reflect the amount DeVos has spent on purchasing airtime, they do not track the amount that he has spent on actually producing the advertisements.
The advertisements run thus far by the DeVos campaign, according to information compiled by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy’s Election Watch 2006 effort have featured minimal details and a host of unsubstantiated claims. Viewers hear ads that claim DeVos is a “job-maker,” that he “turned around” Amway/Alticor, and that he was instrumental in the revival of downtown. However great these claims may be, little information has been given in the advertisements to prove that he is a “job maker,” to explain how he “turned around” Amway/Alticor in light of the layoff of 1,300 workers in Michigan in 2000, or his role in construction projects funded in part by his father, Richard DeVos. Other advertisements run by DeVos have made claims that he wants to make Michigan friendlier to businesses by doing things such as eliminating the Small Business Tax, although no details are given about how he plans to achieve any of these goals. Unfortunately, according to election coverage in the local media that has also been monitored by GRIID, neither the broadcast media nor the print media have provided the type of coverage necessary to fully understand the positions of either Dick DeVos or governor Jennifer Granholm.
Spending totals for Dick DeVos for Governor through June 1, 2006:
Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo: $960,995
Flint / Tri-Cities: $453,745
Northern Lower Peninsula: $415,586
Western Upper Peninsula: $142,455
While polling data should always be viewed with a healthy amount of suspicion, the most recent polling data places DeVos and Granholm in a “statistical dead heat.”