Under the Dome

Dome: Deadline for fundraising draws last-minute appeals

jfrank@newsobserver.comSeptember 30, 2013 

Monday was the third-quarter deadline for U.S. Senate candidates to raise money, and the fundraising pitches in the final days reflected its importance.

Republican Thom Tillis, hoping to post big numbers in his first full quarter as a candidate, sounded the health care alarm and made the GOP pledge of allegiance: “I’ve pledged to vote to repeal, defund it, and stop Obamacare in any way possible.” Tillis hopes to raise $12 million for his campaign.

Meanwhile his opponent, Greg Brannon says he needs $18,000 and acknowledges he won’t raise as much money as Tillis. Indeed, his fundraising email was titled “I will be outspent.” He went on to bash Tillis for raising money from special interests, saying Tillis is an “establishment-backed insider who is stuffing his campaign coffers with special-interest money. … After all, my opponent is the hand-picked candidate of Washington insiders who have one goal: To keep their taxpayer-funded, special interest gravy train running full speed ahead.”

As for Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, she just wants to add to her sizable money lead. She turned to a fellow senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, to help with her fundraising pitch. Baldwin says says she knows what it’s like to have Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spend money to attack her, and she wants to help Hagan with the fight now.

GOP calls Hagan ineffective

National Republicans are outlining their attack points against Hagan as it seeks to oust her in 2014, labeling her as ineffective and out of step with North Carolina voters.

In a political memo released Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is pushing its calculation of Hagan’s performance, saying she’s “the most ineffective senator in North Carolina’s history” by showing the number of bills she sponsored or co-sponsored that became law. The organization did not explain how they calculated the numbers, which don’t take into account length of service.

Ward Baker, the NRSC political director, also tries to align Hagan closely to President Barack Obama, a line likely to be repeated often in the campaign given voters’ polarized views on the president. Testing out campaign lines, Baker writes that Hagan was the “deciding vote” on the federal health care law, which is a dubious suggestion at face value, and a supporter of the president’s “crack down on lawful gun-owners,” which is also an exaggeration.

Republicans are also touting their chances, saying they are “fielding a far stronger candidate” than when Hagan won in 2008. Hagan beat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. It does not, however, mention the candidate. Republicans are mired in a primary fight that includes Tillis, Brannon and soon-to-be-official candidate Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor.

“Those factors, combined with the reality that her opponent’s campaign will be a well-funded effort spell trouble ahead for Kay Hagan,” Baker concluded.

Hagan won in 2008 despite being vastly outspent, and she won more votes than Obama in North Carolina. Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner responded to the memo saying the senator has a strong record. “This memo is a desperate attempt by a DC group to advance their fringe agenda and distract from a chaotic primary that includes four candidates willing to shut down the government in order to play partisan political games,” she wrote in a statement.

Hagan, Cooper to talk at gala

The Democrats will gather in Asheville this weekend for their annual Western Gala, known in less politically correct times as the Vance-Aycock Dinner.

Sen. Kay Hagan, who is facing re-election next year, will be the featured speaker at the $75-per-person dinner at the Grove Park Inn, along with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback Jr., vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is testing the waters for a possible gubernatorial bid, will be the speaker at the Women’s Breakfast.

The ticket for the VIP reception is $250.

The dinner was started by Gov. Terry Sanford in the 1960s, and for most of its history was named after former governors Zeb Vance and Charles Brantley Aycock. The name was changed in recent years as Democrats had second thoughts about Aycock’s role in white supremacy campaigns.

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen

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