Outside groups launch dueling ads in NC Senate race

Posted by John Frank on August 23, 2014 

Two outside political groups launched dueling attack ads this week seeking to define the candidates in the U.S. Senate campaign and added $2 million to the massive sums being spent in the high-profile race. (See the ads below.)

The Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC is spending $800,000 to air a statewide spot attacking Republican Thom Tillis’ record on education issues. And the Republican-aligned Crossroads GPS is putting $1.12 million toward a TV ad attacking Democrat Kay Hagan on the federal deficit.

More than $25 million so far has been spent on advertising in the race, according to media tracking reports, much of it on TV attack ads.

The Senate Majority PAC ad that debuted Thursday says Tillis is “gambling with our future” when it comes to education spending, citing the recently approved state budget that relies more on lottery money to cover education items, such as money for teachers and teacher assistants. The ad will run for 10 days.

The education cuts mentioned in the 30-second spot reference the 2013 state budget plan, But the ad ignores the 2014 budget bill that gave teachers a significant pay hike, preserved teacher tenure and maintained most teaching assistant positions. “Thom Tillis has a proven record of balancing budgets, giving teachers historic pay raises, and creating opportunities for North Carolina middle-class families,” said Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin in response to the ad.

The Crossroads GPS ad started Friday and will run through Aug. 31. It takes a double-barrel approach, hitting her for voting to increase the debt limit and her support for elements of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan.

“Kay Hagan says she wants moderate solutions ... but there’s nothing moderate about Hagan’s spending priorities,” the ad says. As a nonprofit group, Crossroads GPS can’t advocate for or against a candidate, so the ad instead tells viewers to call Hagan and ask her to support a Republican-sponsored budget resolution.

The Bowles-Simpson hit is a new element to the negative TV ads. It cites a News & Observer article in which Hagan says she is a “big believer” in the deficit cutting plan developed by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson. The ad says the plan would “raise the retirement age, reduces the home mortgage deduction and increases out-of-pocket medicare costs.”

A Hagan spokeswoman says she opposes the elements of the plan that would cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement or Medicare-eligibility age – neither of which are mentioned in the ad.

Also not mentioned in the ad is how Tillis supported a 2013 tax law that limited the state’s home mortgage deduction.

See both ads below.

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