As if his television advertising blitz left any doubt that he was willing to spend freely on his gubernatorial campaign, Buz Mills on April 1 filed a campaign finance report showing he’d spent $1.2 million since entering the race.
The report was required under Arizona’s Clean Elections system, which requires traditionally funded campaigns to file trigger reports when they spend more than 70 percent of the money available to their publicly funded opponents.
Gov. Jan Brewer, the incumbent Mills hopes to unseat in the Republican primary, got $700,000 from Clean Elections in March, and state Treasurer Dean Martin will be eligible for the same if he qualifies for public funding.
Mills’ trigger report shows that he’s spent more than half of the $2 million check he wrote to his campaign in January. Much of the money went toward the television ads Mills is running on network and cable television stations across the state, according to campaign manager Camilla Strongin.
“A fair amount of it was. We live in an expensive media market,” Strongin said.
Political consultants say Mills’ 60 and 30-second spots probably cost up to $250,000 a week to run. Strongin said the ads, which began airing in early March, are still on the air.
Strongin would not say how much Mills, a former telecommunications magnate and owner of the Gunsite firearms training facility in Paulden, had raised since filing his initial campaign finance report in January or how much more of his own money he is willing to put into the campaign. But she indicated that the self-funding of his campaign won’t end with the $2 million check he wrote in January.
“We’re serious about the campaign and certainly we’re just not going to telegraph our intentions at this point,” she said.
The Brewer campaign filed a complaint on April 9 with the Secretary of State’s Office and the Citizens Clean Elections Commission questioning whether the Mills campaign hit the trigger amount of $495,000 before March, which would have required Mills to file a trigger report on March 1. But the complaint does not say what raised those questions.
Strongin said she hadn’t seen the complaint yet and had no comment.