The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

February 28, 2014

U.S. Senate race in N.C. shaping up to be costliest in the nation

Thursday, February 27, 2014 — RALEIGH — Outside money keeps pouring into the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. The seat, currently occupied by first-term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, is shaping up to be one of the most competitive — and expensive — Senate races in the country this year.

Democrats currently have a 55-45 majority in the U.S. Senate, but most political observers agree that Republicans have a legitimate shot at winning back control of the chamber in this year’s election. And the race here in North Carolina is pivotal to determining that control.

North Carolina is one of seven Senate races up this year featuring Democratic senators facing re-election in states President Barack Obama lost in 2012. Of those seven contests, North Carolina’s may very well end up being the most competitive.

So it’s not necessarily a surprise that outside money is already flowing into the race, but the amount of money is pretty staggering. Estimates show that at least $7 million has already been spent by outside groups trying to influence the election, which includes over $5 million spent by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

The sheer volume of spending by outside groups at this stage of an election is unprecedented in North Carolina, but at the same time this is becoming the new normal in elections across the country. Unlike candidates, these outside groups can accept unlimited money and many don’t have to disclose their donors.

As a result, more and more campaign dollars are finding their way into these groups’ coffers, with the result being a massive influx of spending in competitive races.

The latest ad blitz comes courtesy of Patriot Majority USA, a Democratic-aligned group supporting Hagan, and attacks Republican N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is the closest to a frontrunner that exists in the GOP primary.

Tillis faces a crowded primary, but with his position in the N.C. House and his early fundraising edge many see him as the most likely to emerge from the Republican field to take on Hagan in the general election.

Generally, attacking candidates is what this outside money is primarily spent on during a campaign. So while Hagan is bearing the brunt of the attacks so far, it’s important for her campaign that outside groups are coming to her defense right now because it allows her to continue to stockpile her own war chest and save her campaign spending for later in the election season.

In the end, outside groups and their spending could play a significant role in this race. That is especially true if Tillis, or one of the other leading Republicans, has to spend a great deal of money just to win the primary, allowing Hagan extra time to raise cash and craft her message.

In that scenario, conservative and Republican-aligned groups could play a key role in propping up the eventual Republican nominee while they replenish their campaign coffers after a bruising primary.

Counting spending from outside groups and the campaigns themselves, the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina is likely to be the most expensive in the country.

With Tar Heel Democrats fired up over conservative policies coming from Raleigh and Republicans fed up with President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, this election season will surely be an interesting one to watch.

Brent Laurenz is executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education and a contributor to He can be contacted at laurenz@ncvoter


Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 11, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 10, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content