WASHINGTON (CNN) - Candidates, political parties and interest groups spent over $2.1 billion in television advertising in the two-year election cycle that just ended - a record breaking amount in any presidential or midterm election, according to a study by TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on political ad spending.
More than half of this amount ($1.1 billion) was spent in the final 30 days of the campaign.
The 36 gubernatorial races held this year accounted for $652 million in ad spending, compared to $391 million spent on U.S. House races and $365 million spent on U.S. Senate races. An additional $302 million was spent on TV ads regarding various state ballot measures across the nation.
The incoming freshman class in both the Senate and the House spent at least a combined $110 million in TV ads to win office. Those ads mainly addressed the Iraq War ($32.3 million), taxes ($29.1 million), health care ($22.6 million) and energy ($12.6 million).
The first ad of the campaign season aired in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 18, 2005, approximately 21 months before Election Day in that state's race for governor. The final ad of Election 2006 aired Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas, for a run-off election in the state's 23rd congressional district.
The final ad to air on Election Day on November 7 ran in Evansville, Indiana, five hours after polls had closed in that state.
The previous record for political ad spending was $1.7 billion in the 2004 election cycle. The previous ad spending record for a mid-term election cycle was $1 billion in the 2002 campaign.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite criticism for adjourning last week without acting on several major legislative initiatives, members of Congress can boast significant achievements in at least one area of federal lawmaking - naming post offices.
Of the 383 pieces of legislation that were signed into law during the two-year 109th Congress, more than one-quarter dealt with naming or renaming federal buildings and structures - primarily post offices - after various Americans.
Three post offices were named after entertainers. Ray Charles, the late singer and musician, was honored with a post office in Los Angeles in July 2005 in a bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Watson, D-California. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, authored a law naming another Los Angeles post office after actor and former American Express pitchman Karl Malden.
And in March, Congress passed and the president signed legislation naming a Smithfield, North Carolina, post office after actress Ava Gardner. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-North Carolina.
Several members of the U.S. military killed in Iraq or Afghanistan were honored with post offices, and the late civil rights leader Rosa Parks was honored with a federal building in Detroit, Michigan.
Some federal facilities were named after deceased members of Congress. The late Rep. Robert Matsui, D-California, was honored with a courthouse in Sacramento. A Brooklyn, N.Y., post office was named after former Rep. and one-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Shirley Chisolm, D-New York.
And one of the final actions Congress took before adjourning early Saturday was naming a Delaware bridge after that state's long-time GOP Sen. William Roth.