Outside groups spending big to help Harris, McCready in Charlotte-area US House race

A Republican group linked to House leadership is spending $1 million to air television ads in the Charlotte media market slamming Democratic congressional candidate Dan McCready beginning Wednesday — another example of big spending by outside groups in the state.

McCready is facing Republican Mark Harris and Libertarian Jeff Scott in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, which stretches across the state’s southern border from the Charlotte suburbs to Fayetteville. The seat is held by Republican Robert Pittenger, who lost to Harris in the May primary, and Republicans have held it for nearly five decades.

Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC endorsed by House Republican leadership, bought the ads, which try to tie McCready to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi. The ad calls McCready “another tax-and-spend liberal” and says he stands “with Pelosi, not us.” It also takes quotes from a Charlotte Observer editorial about McCready’s unwillingness to answer questions directly.

McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and solar business owner, has pledged not to vote for Pelosi for speaker if Democrats take the House in November.

In a recent fundraising appeal, McCready said he was facing “an extreme opponent” who has the backing of “outside special interest groups gearing up to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads to prop up his campaign.”

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CLF’s spending comes as polls show a tight race in the district. A recent New York Times poll of 502 voters in the district found Harris, a former pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, leading McCready 47 percent to 42 percent. Civitas, a Raleigh-based conservative group, found McCready leading Harris 45 percent to 41 percent with Libertarian candidate Jeff Scott at 3 percent in a recent survey. Both polls are within the margin of error.

Harris and McCready will debate Wednesday at 7 p.m. It will air on WBTV, and will be available to stream live on Facebook via the WBTV and Charlotte Observer pages.

Before CLF’s spending, outside groups had spent $903,489 in the 9th district contest, according to the Federal Election Commission. Democratic groups House Majority PAC and Patriot Majority PAC have been the biggest spenders so far, combining to spend $657,195.

Republican groups, including the House Freedom Fund, Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks for America and the National Rifle Association, have spent $140,255 on behalf of Harris.

More than $2.4 million has been spent in the state by outside groups during this election cycle.

North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, where Democratic challenger Linda Coleman is taking on incumbent Republican Rep. George Holding, has seen more than $1 million in outside spending. CLF is spending $1.4 million in the district in support of Holding.

More than $413,000 has been spent in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District race between Republican Rep. Ted Budd and Democratic challenger Kathy Manning.

Brian Murphy: 202.383.6089; Twitter: @MurphinDC