Hawaii’s hotly contested political campaigns translated to millions of dollars for local television stations, a review of publicly available records on file at the stations shows.

KHON2 — the local Fox News affiliate — made at least $3 million from campaign advertising. Many campaign spots air during local news broadcasts.

Hawaii News Now — a three-station venture that includes KHNL, KGMB and KFVE — collected at least $4.8 million.

Civil Beat in its weekly Public File series documented how much money political candidates and committees spent airing ads on local TV stations this election season. We based our tallies on ad contracts found in the stations’ public files.

The project was aimed at tracking the money that goes to influence local politics. We expected to see particularly large amounts of spending this year in Hawaii in part because our U.S. Senate race between incumbent Rep. Mazie Hirono and GOP challenger, popular two-term former Gov. Linda Lingle, was thought to be one that could swing the Senate to a Republican majority. The 2010 Citizens United ruling also allowed corporations, unions and other groups to dedicate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.

But the race between Lingle and Hirono was never close enough to warrant huge amounts of cash, as other states with tighter races saw.

In the end, local TV stations took in more than $13.8 million over the election season, a period that ran from about January — when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran it’s first pro-Lingle ads — through the Nov. 6 election.

Professor Jonathan Taplin, director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, said Hawaii’s TV ad total was not as robust as in other areas of the country.

“Hawaii got a relatively small number of political ads compared to some markets in the swing states which were taking in $3 million a week!” Taplin said via email from France where he was attending a conference. “If you had lived in Las Vegas or Columbus, Ohio and owned a TV station, you could probably go on vacation until June.”

Civil Beat analyzed Hawaii contracts compiled since late June, when the first phase of full-throttle campaigning started to take hold.

KHON made the most money this election season, an analysis of the contracts shows.

KGMB came in second, raking in about $2.9 million since late June. And KITV drew in slightly more than $2 million during the same time. Oceanic Time Warner cable, the state’s primary cable provider, grossed more than $1.5 million.

KFVE made the least off of political advertising, pulling in less than $392,000.

Nationally, political ad spending hit an all-time high this election season, with advertising analysts estimating that about $6 billion was spent this year on election advertising across all media.

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