RALEIGH — The race for North Carolina lieutenant governor is heating up as a state employees union began running a commercial that Republican Dan Forest blasted as disrespectful to his family, including his mother, Congresswoman Sue Myrick.
The ad, paid for by the political action committee of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, accuses Forest of being an extreme politician in part because he would deny women access to birth control and life-saving cancer screenings. The association, which backs Democrat Linda Coleman in the race, bases the accusation on a candidate questionnaire in which he says he disagreed with continued state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Forests campaign said the candidates father and grandfather died of cancer, and that Myrick, who is leaving Congress at the end of the year, is a breast cancer survivor. Myrick sponsored a bill that became law that provided Medicaid coverage for mammograms and pap smears for low-income women.
To say that Dan Forest is against cancer screenings for women is pathetic, shameful, ignorant and disrespectful to Dan and his family for all they have lost to the disease, Forest campaign manager Hal Weatherman wrote in an email, adding, Dan is supportive of all his mothers legislative efforts to fight cancer, and he hopes to follow in her footsteps in fighting the disease.
Association political director Kevin LeCount said Friday the ad isnt meant to be disrespectful to Forests family, adding family members of SEANC leaders have been affected by cancer, too. LeCount said it is Forest who is disrespecting women by opposing funding for Planned Parenthood, which offers free or low-cost contraceptives and annual breast cancer exams.
The Republican-led Legislature has passed laws the past two years attempting to withhold state funds for Planned Parenthood affiliates. A federal judge blocked enforcement of the 2011 law.
Were absolutely not ashamed at all because the ad is true and in our opinion he wanted to cut off vital health care access for women, LeCount said in an interview. Because Forests family has experienced cancer doesnt give him a free pass on the question of funds for preventive services, LeCount added.
Planned Parenthood also provides abortions, which has made the group a fiscal target for anti-abortion legislators and activists.
The commercial also attempts to label Forest, a Raleigh architect and first-time candidate, as extreme on the minimum wage. The same candidate questionnaire from the Civitas Institute records Forest as calling minimum wage laws an unfair intrusion into the labor market that hurts the employment opportunities for low-skilled labor.
To be against a minimum wage law in this country in this day is just so out of the norm, LeCount said.
The ad goes on to shower praise upon Coleman, a former state personnel director and ex-legislator from Knightdale. The 55,000-member association said it is spending $200,000 to run the ad that started Thursday on cable television systems. The amount is more than what Coleman or Forest has spent airing ads in the general election so far.
Campaign laws prevent SEANC from coordinating the ads with Colemans campaign.