(Updated Feb. 8, 2:45 p.m. ET)
Conservative outside spending group Wisconsin Club for Growth has purchased at least $111,000 in television ads in support of incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, ramping up a political ad war in what is officially a non-partisan race for the state's Supreme Court.
The advertisements are set to start today and run at least until Feb. 18 — the day before the primary election — according to information gathered from Political Ad Sleuth, a Sunlight tool that tracks political ad purchases, and phone calls to local stations. Steve Scadden, a sales manager for Madison TV station WISC, confirmed Thursday that the ads support Roggensack. This continues the political ad blitz in Wisconsin, which played host last year to one of the most heavily contested presidential primaries, a gubernatorial recall election and a high-profile Senate race.
So far, spending totals are known for only three stations. Wisconsin Club for Growth paid $32,450 for 34 spots at the CBS affiliate and $28,000 at the NBC affiliate, both in Milwaukee, and $50,700 for ads at the CBS station in Madison.
Wisconsin Club for Growth did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokesman for the national Club for Growth denied knowledge of the ad campaign.
The expenditures by Wisconsin Club for Growth piggyback on donations from other conservative groups, contributing to Roggensack's already sizeable financial advantage. Though Roggensack — like other candidates — isn't running on a party line, she is supported by Republican groups in Wisconsin, according to campaign finance disclosures. Her opponents, attorney Vince Megna and Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, appear to be financing their own campaigns.
Roggensack has also purchased television time — $13,165 from the CBS station and another $3,500 at the NBC station in Milwaukee— and, as the top fundraiser in the election, is poised to outbuy her opposition. According to the La Crosse Tribune, Roggensack plans to extend her advertising beyond Milwaukee next week.
Megna and Fallone have not purchased ads yet.
Sunlight will continue to monitor the ad buys using Political Ad Sleuth. Check back here for updates.