Dems Dump 'Modest' Cash into Missouri TV Ads

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Democratic presidential candidates have begun buying television ads in Missouri with less than a week before the Feb. 3 primary.

But so far the buys have been surprisingly "modest," said Peggy Madigan, director of sales for KMBC-TV in Kansas City.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Sen. John Kerry (search) and Sen. John Edwards (search) boughtent almost $21,000 on television ads for three stations in Kansas City, the largest amount of $12,475 at KMBC, an ABC affiliate. His campaign also had ordered $5,000 worth of ads from WDAF, a FOX station, and $3,455 from KSHB, an NBC affiliate. KCTV, the CBS affiliate, is located in Kansas and did not have any buys.

Sales managers did not have specifics on Edwards' advertisements on Wednesday afternoon, but they expected the buy to be similar to what Kerry spent. His ads will appear in Kansas city, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield.

"I'm surprised," Madigan said. "I expected to see more (advertisements) than that."

John McKenna, general sales manager at KSHB-TV, also had anticipated more ad buys from the candidates, especially after Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt (search) dropped out of the Democratic race last week after a disappointing fourth place finish in Iowa.

"I can't figure out why Missouri isn't a bigger emphasis for these guys," McKenna said.

At St. Louis' television station KMOV, president and general manager Allan Cohen said Kerry's camp placed a "relatively modest" order Tuesday for commercials.

Cohen said he expected other candidates interested in airing spots on the CBS affiliate to buy air time by Thursday.

"I suspect that each of the candidates is analyzing his performance yesterday (in New Hampshire) and strategizing where to put their resources," Cohen said.

William Benoit, communications professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia (search), said the candidates may not be investing as much ad money in Kansas City and St. Louis because the cities border other states not holding primaries. Kansas City borders Kansas, and St. Louis is across the Mississippi River from Illinois.

Arizona, New Mexico, Delaware, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina also hold primaries on Feb. 3. Missouri has the most delegates at stake that day.