CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With Election Day just eight weeks off, politicians and their operatives are invading West Virginia television sets.
Expect 56 days of continual and intensifying political messaging.
On Monday alone, Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Raese, Republican attorney general candidate Patrick Morrisey and the National Republican Congressional Committee announced new ads in the state.
There is also a play by West Virginia campaigns to make sure they have ad time as the election approaches.
That's because Ohio and Virginia are both battleground states in the presidential election. Because the three states' media markets overlap, there could be a scramble to make sure West Virginia candidates can afford air time this fall, particularly in the final frantic days with a presidency at stake.
The ads bombarding the state will come from candidates, committees set up to support candidates, established interest groups and at least one new and mysterious group with unknown backers.
Already, a mysterious group has cropped up to support Democrat Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
The group, calling itself the Committee for American Fairness, recently released an ad praising McGraw's work.
Its website also features information critical of Morrisey.
No one has stepped forward to take credit for the group or speak on its behalf.
McGraw's supporters and critics alike have been left scratching their heads about its origin. That indicates it may be an out-of-state effort.
An email to an address on the group's website went unanswered. An employee at Shine Creative - the Washington, D.C.-based company that did the ad - did not answer a question about who paid to produce the ad.
The group has spent at least $231,000, according to a web posting by the Morrisey campaign.
Morrisey's campaign is releasing an ad Wednesday, he said Monday.
"In this ad, we have a number of ordinary West Virginians talking about my background and why my opposition to President Obama's job-killing policies will improve the state's business climate," Morrisey said in an email. "We hope folks enjoy the ad."
The ad resembles a recent one from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney. Both ads are largely positive and feature ordinary-looking people endorsing the candidates.
Maloney's similar ad doesn't mention Tomblin, though it mentions Obama. Morrisey's mentions "Obamacare" but not McGraw, though both Democrats are depicted on screen.
Tomblin released two ads Monday, his campaign said.
Both repeat some of the themes that formed the basis of Tomblin's 2011 special election victory. The Tomblin commercial even reuses some footage from last year's ads. Maloney also recycled footage this year.
The governor is still for "More Jobs, Lower Taxes," he said, and he's still touting the fact that the state's budget is balanced. The state is required to have a balanced budget, so Tomblin's claim doesn't make him stand out from past governors.
Tomblin also emphasizes his pro-coal industry positions by talking about a state lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"I took them to court and we won," Tomblin says in the ad. The Maloney campaign noted it was Tomblin's predecessor, Gov. Joe Manchin, who started the state's legal action.
The Tomblin campaign has previously criticized a Maloney ad for being misleading.
Supreme Court race
There are no ads airing yet in the state Supreme Court race. That, of course, will soon change.
Democrat Justice Robin Davis already has set aside at least $494,000 for general election campaigning, according to a July campaign finance filing. The majority of that money is to pay for commercials, Davis campaign spokeswoman Lisa Duvall said Monday.
But those ads aren't scheduled to appear until next month.
"We're not going to be up this month," Duvall said Monday.
Democrat Tish Chafin's campaign also has not bought airtime until October, campaign strategist Larry LaCorte said.
"We laid in media for the last two weeks of the campaign in very competitive media markets because we expected the inventory to get tight and we wanted to make sure our ads would be bought and placed and would be running," LaCorte said.
Candidates are supposed to receive the cheapest ad time available at the time they buy their ads.
But to get those rates, it's generally best to buy further in advance of the election.