Governor’s race: Big TV buys, a first debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff is taking to the airwaves, heavily, in his bid to unseat GOP incumbent Butch Otter.

As of Sept. 8, Balukoff spent more than $500,000 to air 2,800 statewide ads, Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Otter, meanwhile, spent about $121,000 on 500 TV ads.

The numbers come from an analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. The analysis is limited to TV ads, and does not cover other forms of spending.

A key benchmark will come on Oct. 10, when the candidates are due to submit the next round of campaign finance reports.

In other news from the governor’s race, the debate season is now under way.

With Otter a no-show, Balukoff and Libertarian candidate John Bujak took turns pillorying the incumbent in Twin Falls Wednesday night.

A couple of competing quotes, from Nathan Brown of The Times-News and Kruesi:

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  • Said Balukoff: “Without a change in leadership, we will continue our spiral to the bottom.”
  • Said Bujak: “You could choose Gov. Otter, you could lock yourself into four more years of cronyism but Idaho will dig deeper into a pit. I am the only conservative candidate on the ballot.”

Otter did not attend Wednesday night’s debate, sponsored by The Times-News and KMVT-TV. Otter and Balukoff will square off four times in October, starting next week in Coeur d’Alene.