So midterms are over… and it will be on to the next election cycle, kicking off sometime next week I’d imagine. To be perfectly honest, does the actually campaigning ever really end any more?

In the era of 24 hour news, can a politician afford even one minute of getting off message, or take a few days off?

This year’s midterm election will be the most expensive in history. Television and radio advertising expenditures are estimated at over $3.25 BILLION dollars, while digital advertising was nearing $900 million. Final totals won’t be available until all the final Federal Election Commission reports are filed after the election.

In Tennessee’s Senate race alone over $80 million was spent, $50 million of which was raised outside the state. This was considered a battleground race with national implications, so excess spending was to be expected.

Spending will definitely surpass $5 billion total on the election. Is it money well spent? Guess it depends on where you sit. But a lot of good could happen with that many billions outside of the political arena.

By mid-day Tuesday many precincts and county clerks were reporting record turnout for early voting, seeing numbers that are normally reserved for presidential election years. We will have to wait for all votes to be tallied, but it is definitely good news that more Americans are paying attention and exercising their civic duty.

By the way, California voting is severely outclassed in Tennessee. I never realized how far behind California has actually fallen until I left and experienced something else. Touchscreens for check-in, Voter ID card checked against your drivers license and personal verification of your home address. My goodness, what a change! Needless to say, I had the biggest smile as I went to select my vote choices.

And voting was such an easy process! Press the button, click next. Not even five minutes later, I was finished.

The best part… my “I Voted!” sticker….way cool, and not the generic one I was so happy to receive every Election Day!

Coming home after voting, I was greeted with the beautiful fall colors in our backyard, leaves falling and the prettiest swarm of giant ladybugs on my patio. Colder weather is starting to creep in, and western Tennessee in the fall is a beautiful sight. As an aside, the ticks are no joke here, as Spock (our Doberman) can attest. They seemed to bother him a lot less than they bothered me though! As long as most of the bugs stay in their habitat I think we’ll all survive!

In the meantime.....look for the campaigning to soon begin all over again.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.