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Watch TV in Colorado, face an onslaught of political ads

The ominous-sounding narrator in Republican Bob Beauprez's TV ad asks viewers to ponder a question before casting ballots in the state's gubernatorial contest: With his opponent John Hickenlooper as governor, is your family safe?

Another narrator, less fearful in tone, speaks on behalf of Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, warning that "Colorado just can't trust the real Cory Gardner" when it comes to his bid for U.S. Senate, because of his shifting positions on women's reproductive rights.

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And a third, this one sponsored by the Democratic Governors Assn., notes that during Beauprez's failed 2006 run for governor he would "oppose funding for Planned Parenthood."

These are just part of what seems like an endless loop of television ads targeting Colorado voters in the final days before Tuesday's midterm election. The onslaught of ads in this centrist state -- most of them for close races for governor and U.S. Senate -- are coming at viewers from both the candidates and deep-pocketed outside groups pushing their favorites.

Ballots in the state's all-mail election were sent to voters in mid-October, yet a steady stream of ad buys continue to be reserved in the Denver and Colorado Springs media markets up until election day in an effort to court voters in the midterms.

Nationwide, more than $1 billion will be spent on television advertising in federal and gubernatorial races by candidates and special interest groups, according to a recent study by the nonpartisan Wesleyan Media Project.

Denver is the top media market by ad volume, with 78,000 ads aired by Oct. 23, at a cost of about $77 million. And Colorado Springs -- the second most populous city in Colorado -- ranks No. 7 and had seen 41,000 ads airing at a cost of $11.3 million.

On Saturday, more than a third of the television ads to air during the half hour 10 p.m. newscast for local CBS affiliate KKTV-11 here in southern Colorado were political, centered primarily on the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate contests.

Udall, who is seeking a second term, and Gardner, a Republican who vacated a safe GOP House seat in eastern Colorado to run against the Democrat, have raised a total of more than $25 million, making for one of the most expensive statewide races in Colorado history.

The majority of that money has gone toward television advertising.

In the governor's race, Hickenlooper, a quirky former brewery owner and two-term Denver mayor, has eschewed running negative ads in his contest against Beauprez, which poll after poll shows as a dead heat.

Many of Hickenlooper's ads have focused on his time as a business owner and the work his administration did in rebuilding roads and bridges after massive flooding ravaged much of the state in September of 2013. Still, the DGA has offered Hickenlooper cover by attacking Beauprez on issues such as abortion rights and his past support for personhood measures that would have afforded full human rights from conception onward.

For his part, Beauprez has homed in on public safety practices under  Hickenlooper. Last year, Hickenlooper granted a temporary reprieve to a death row inmate convicted of killing several people at a suburban Denver Chuck E. Cheese's in the early 1990s.

"As governor, I'll stand up for Colorado," says Beauprez in a recent ad, flanked by local sheriffs and George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County district attorney who has sought the death penalty for accused Aurora theater gunman James Holmes. "And work with law enforcement to keep us safe."

Twitter: @kurtisalee 

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