Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Democratic opponent Thomas Suozzi have spared no expense in deluging voters with on-air ads this election -- each spending just under $2 million in TV and radio ad buys over the past three months, according to state campaign finance reports.
They've also spent thousands more in newspaper ads and campaign mailers, with total spending vastly more than it was in their 2009 race, when then-incumbent Suozzi decided to hold back from spending more than $1 million left in his campaign coffers and Mangano, a little-known Bethpage legislator, raised only about $550,000 and aired ads only in the last two weeks of the race.
"They have been on TV every five minutes," said Michael Dawidziak, a Bohemia-based political consultant who primarily works for Republicans but is not involved in the county executive race. "In the last race the ads certainly weren't as heavy, and certainly did not run as early."
The ads have become increasingly combative in content as the election nears, from Republican attacks on "High Tax Tom" Suozzi for raising taxes during his administration to Democratic charges that Mangano is a tea party extremist who opposes gun control.
Suozzi, a former two-term county executive who lost to Mangano by 386 votes in their last election, has spent $1.98 million on TV and radio ads from July 25 to Oct. 25, according to state campaign finance reports. He also has spent $18,736 to run ads in local community papers, and at least $287,077 on campaign mailers.
The Glen Cove Democrat has aired six TV ads starting at the end of July, when he faced a primary challenge, but even those ads focused on Mangano's record.
Mangano has spent about $1.87 million on TV and radio ads from Aug. 15 to Oct. 25. He has run seven TV ads this campaign -- up from two in his 2009 bid -- a mix of attacks on Suozzi for raising taxes while in office and voters thanking Mangano for his record. He has spent $38,702 in print ads, but his campaign filings only list $179.19 in campaign mailer expenses. The state Republican Party has sent mailers on Mangano's behalf, but state GOP spokesman David Laska declined to say how much was spent.
In the final days before the election, both candidates have run ads blaming the other for raising taxes while in office. It's a move Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said was likely prompted by internal campaign polls showing unrest among voters about tax bills.
"There's only one issue that matters here, and tests out, and that's why it's been talked about so much, and it's taxes," he said.
On Wednesday, Suozzi released his sixth and final ad, which features a man opening his tax bill as a narrator states that Mangano's property assessment policies have increased school taxes for homeowners, including Mangano, whose school taxes have increased by 24 percent over the past two years.
"Ed Mangano's rampant fiscal malfeasance has cost taxpayers millions, and he has been trying to deceive the public for the duration of this campaign," Suozzi campaign spokesman Jeff Guillot said.
On Thursday, Mangano launched his seventh TV ad, where he rebuts Suozzi's claims on raising school property taxes by stating "if school taxes are higher, it's because school districts are taxing and spending more."
"Residents couldn't trust Tom Suozzi when he hiked their taxes by 23 percent and they certainly can't trust him now," Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said.
Both parties have also turned to campaign mailers to rally their bases. The state GOP has sent at least six separate mailers on behalf of Mangano's campaign, labeling Suozzi as "High Tax Tom" and "a liar." The state Democratic Committee has sent at least nine different mailers pegging Mangano as a tea party extremist who stands against gun control.