Millions spent on US Senate primaries in North Carolina


RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Money is pouring into North Carolina to try to influence the outcome of this year’s U.S. Senate race as the Tar Heel State is once again set to play a key role in determining which party wins control of Congress.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, announced Monday that it has already reserved $27.6 million of advertising time in North Carolina starting Sept. 6.

It’s part of $141 million in bookings in battleground states this year, a new record for the group.

“An open-seat election is so critical for Republicans and Democrats. So I think maybe $27 million is just the start,” said David McLennan, a political analyst at Meredith College. “We see a lot of activity. And I think that will continue until election day.

Politico reported that the Senate Majority PAC, which is aligned with Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, previously announced plans to spend at least $106 million in battleground states in the general election, but that figure did not include a specific figure for North Carolina. The initial reservations were also a new record for the majority in the Senate PAC as well.

The airwaves are already saturated with political advertising ahead of the May 17 primary.

While Democrat Cheri Beasley no longer faces any major opposition within her party, Republicans are still locked in an intense battle.

Beasley said he raised $3.6 million for his campaign in the first quarter of the year, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Republican U.S. Representative Ted Budd and former Governor Pat McCrory both raised about $1.1 million during that time, according to FEC reports. Budd directs McCrory in a recent survey.

As campaigns use some of that money for their own advertising, outside group Club for Growth Action is investing even more in the Republican primary.

The group pledged to spend at least $14 million to help Ted Budd win and pursued McCrory in a series of attack ads for months.

“It’s bigger than anything I can remember in terms of the Senate primary race,” McLennan said. “The Club for Growth, in particular, has such a vested interest in Ted Budd winning the nomination and preventing others from winning it, they’re going to spend a lot in the primary cycle and one would assume in the general election.”

McLennan said there had been a significant shift in recent years, with outside groups now spending far more than the campaigns themselves.

He said campaign financial reports give “an overview of how the campaign is going, but it may not be indicative of what the campaign is going to be about at all.”

Spending in the 2020 North Carolina Senate race was just over $300 million, according to Open Secrets. Outdoor groups spent about three times more than campaigns reported spending this cycle.

With the Senate tied at 50-50, each battleground state could play a key role in determining which party ultimately wins control, meaning spending this year could set a new record in the state. .

“Not just because of our Senate nominees, although that’s going to be very important, but because both sides see this as a path to Senate control,” McLennan said.

With black money groups seeking to influence the election, McLennan said it is all the more difficult for voters to determine who the money is trying to affect their vote.

“A lot of these independent spending groups, it’s really behind a veil that’s very hard to see,” he said.


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