Politics & Government

Senate Democratic campaign arm launches $9.1 million ad campaign supporting Hagan

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2014. (Mary F. Calvert/MCT)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2014. (Mary F. Calvert/MCT) MCT

A new TV ad for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan began on Wednesday, the first of what the campaign arm for Senate Democrats says will be a $9.1 million advertising buy in North Carolina.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had promised to pour money in to support Hagan, who is in a tossup race against Republican Thom Tillis. North Carolina is one of a handful of states where the November election could determine which party will control the Senate.

The new ad says Tillis “cut nearly $500 million” from public education in the state in his role as House speaker in the Republican-controlled legislature. The number is a reference to the $480 million in cuts to education in the two-year budget passed in 2013.

The ad doesn’t go into the latest budget developments. The legislature passed a agreement that adjusts the budget, and Gov. Pat McCrory signed it Aug. 7. It raises the pay of teachers by an average of about 7 percent.

The ad also says Tillis “gave tax breaks to yacht and jet owners.” The legislature last year kept a $1,500 cap on the sales tax for a yacht or a jet.

The Tillis campaign put out a press release saying the ad was false, disputing that Tillis cut money from education or gave tax breaks to the wealthy. The release also said that President Barack Obama attended fundraisers for the DSCC recently “instead of addressing the nation’s border security crisis, and foreign policy crises around the globe.”

The education cuts were compared to the state budget office’s assessment of what would be needed to maintain the status quo. Overall spending on education went up, as did the number of students in the state’s schools. And people in all income brackets got tax cuts in 2013.

“It’s fitting that these false attack ads are being paid for by President Obama, a thank you to Kay Hagan for rubber-stamping his failed liberal agenda 95 percent of the time,” said the Tillis campaign’s communications director, Daniel Keylin. “Thom has a proven record of balancing budgets, giving teachers historic pay raises, and creating opportunities for North Carolina families.”