Dome: PPP poll shows leads for Ervin, Forest, McCrory

From staff reportsOctober 31, 2012 

Appeals court Judge Sam Ervin IV leads Justice Paul Newby in the much-watched N.C. Supreme Court race by a 39-35 percent margin, according to a new poll.

But with a week to go, there are still 26 percent of the voters undecided in the officially non-partisan race. But the election has attracted big bucks because the election will affect the balance of the court and could affect redistricting. Newby is a Republican and Ervin a Democrat.

Republican Dan Forest holds a small, but statistically insignificant lead in the race for lieutenant governor, according to the poll. Forest leads Democrat Linda Coleman by a 43-41 percent margin, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

In other Council of State races, Democrat Janet Cowell leads 46-41 for re-election as state treasurer over Steve Royal, Republican Steve Troxler is up 48-38 over Walter Smith for agriculture commissioner, and Democrat Beth Wood is up 50-38 over Republican Debra Goldman for state auditor.

The poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory is maintaining his large lead a week before the election: ahead of Walter Dalton by a 50-39 percent margin.

The survey of 730 likely voters was conducted Oct. 29-31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

Common Sense spending

The liberal umbrella group Common Sense Matters on Wednesday provided its third-quarter campaign finance reports, showing it spent about $553,000 in about a dozen state legislative races. It has also spent about $30,000 on behalf of Ervin for Supreme Court.

That’s a far cry from the outside money benefitting Newby through several independent expenditure committees representing GOP, business and school-choice interests. (Among them, Americans for Prosperity, which is putting $250,000 into 1 million pieces of direct mail to “educate citizens” about Newby. AFP says it’s the largest judicial advocacy it has done anywhere in the U.S. The Koch brothers-funded AFP on Wednesday also announced it will send out 500,000 mailers promoting McCrory, at a cost of $130,000.)

It’s now looking like the Supreme Court campaign will draw somewhere around $3 million in total spending, mostly for incumbent Newby, who says he has to overcome his opponent’s name recognition as the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin Jr.

On the other side of the coin, funding for Common Sense Matters came from the N.C. Futures Action Fund (which, along with Common Sense, was involved in the Wake County school board election last year), $120,000; the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, $75,000; N.C. Advocates for Justice, $62,000; America Votes Action Fund (a national liberal group), $62,557; the N.C. Association of Educators, $50,000; and two Planned Parenthood entities, $35,000.

Not all of the contributors’ money goes to all of the candidates. Some contributed for specific campaigns. Local legislative races Common Sense is spending money on include supporting Jim Messina over incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Murry of Morrisville, and Keith Karlsson over James Fulghum for state House. They’ve also spent money against Sen. Thom Goolsby of Wilmington.

Complaint against McCrory

Democrat Walter Dalton’s campaign filed a campaign finance complaint Wednesday alleging Pat McCrory didn’t properly pay for campaign flights and whether it amounted to an illegal corporate contribution.

The Republican’s campaign outright rejected the claims and provided documentation that it believes supports its claim. State elections chief Gary Bartlett said his agency received the complaint but the agency doesn’t have time to investigate until after next week’s election.

The Dalton complaint focuses on private flights for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to North Carolina for separate McCrory campaign events.

Read more about it at http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, Craig Jarvis and John Frank

Send tips to dome@newsobserver.com.

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