Dome: Super PAC's anti-Ervin ad makes innuendo of facts

November 4, 2012 

The super PAC that produced the attack ad against Judge Sam Ervin IV that began airing on Friday is responding to criticism that the negative spot crossed a line that hasn’t been crossed before in North Carolina judicial elections.

Financed in large part by a national Republican Party group, the independent expenditure committee called Justice for All N.C. bought a TV ad that makes three claims: Ervin and his relatives made campaign contributions to “convicted felon” Mike Easley, who appointed him to the state Utilities Commission, where Ervin raised utility rates.

The group issued a statement Saturday saying Ervin declares in his own TV ad there is no place in the courts for partisan politics or ideology. The statement says Ervin has accused the independent expenditure committees, which have raised at least $2.5 million on his behalf, of trying to buy a seat on the state Supreme Court, where Justice Paul Newby is the incumbent.

Saturday’s statement also includes a link to WTVD footage of Gov. Bev Perdue whispering to Ervin at a breakfast during the Democratic National Convention, “Let’s kick their asses.”

“Voters should know that Ervin’s record does not match his words,” the statement says. “… He accepted an appointment to the state Utilities Commission by a governor whose campaign he and his family supported financially. He should explain then how this financial support of a candidate who appointed him to a seat on the Utilities Commission is not ‘buying a seat’ on the Utilities Commission. He cannot have it both ways. … Our TV ad accurately reflects the facts, even if they make Sam Ervin IV uncomfortable.”

The facts are right, but they add up more to innuendo than to a complete picture. Ervin says the campaign contributions to Easley were made when Easley was attorney general. It was Gov. Jim Hunt who appointed Ervin to the Utilities Commission, and Easley later reappointed him. Easley pleaded guilty after he left office to a felony count related to his failure to report a flight on his campaign finance report.

Outside spending on the Ervin side is about $200,000.

And who paid for the ad?

Dome obtained a production copy of the ad on Saturday and noted that in a title page before the ad begins the company, Innovative Advertising (which also produced the infamous “banjo ad”) lists the client as “Paul Newby for Supreme Court” and not Justice for All N.C. Independent expenditure committees aren’t allowed to coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.

Bob Rosser, a spokesman for the super PAC, reiterated Saturday that the ad is from Justice for All and said the reference to the client must be for the company’s internal tracking. Paul Shumaker, Newby’s campaign strategist, said the campaign had nothing to do with the ad. He added that neither he nor Newby has even seen it.

Newby’s committee is called “Newby for Court.”

Four years later …

If you go by poll averages, Mitt Romney is in slightly better shape than Barack Obama was at this point in North Carolina than was John McCain.

The Real Clear Politics website, which collates poll averages, as of Oct. 31 has Romney at 49.8 percent and Obama at 46 percent.

At the same date in 2008, Real Clear Politics had McCain at 48.9 percent and Obama at 46.3 percent.

Make of it what you will.

UNC vs. N.C. State trends

It turns out Wolfpack fans overwhelmingly like red on the court and in the voting booth, and that Tar Heels similarly stick with blue on Election Day. Blue Devils land somewhere in the middle.

As part of the latest Elon University Poll, people around North Carolina were asked whether they support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

They were also asked if they’re hoping the Wolfpack’s historic preseason ranking holds out (they’re No. 6 and ahead of rivals on either side of the Tobacco Road) or if they want a repeat of one version or another of recent history when March Madness rolls around.

By the numbers:

• North Carolina State University fans support Romney by a 59-30 margin.

• University of North Carolina fans support Obama by a 53-41 margin.

• Duke University fans slightly favor Obama, 47 percent-45 percent, but remain within the poll’s margin of error.

• In the gubernatorial race, everyone prefers Pat McCrory over Walter Dalton, with Duke by the slightest margin, 47-43, and UNC at 52-38.

The survey was conducted from Oct. 21-26 by landline and cellphone, and 1,238 likely voters responded. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.79 percentage points.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, Rob Christensen and Austin Baird

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