Raleigh, N.C. — Cornerstone Solutions, a Republican political consulting firm, and Campaign Connections, a Democratic firm, have been hired to promote the the $2 billion bond referendum that will be on the March 15 ballot.
"The bond is bipartisan. It’s about connecting our strongest assets to build a better state," said former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, co-chairman of the NC Connect Committee, a group put together by Gov. Pat McCrory to promote the bond.
Brad Crone, who heads Campaign Connections, and Chris Sinclair of Cornerstone have worked together to promote a recent Wake County schools bond, and "together they have managed hundreds of campaigns and bond issues across the state. Both firms have the background and experience to help guide the bond campaign to success," Orr said.
Orr is one of five co-chairs tapped to oversee the day-to-day operation of the bond effort. The last time voters had a say on a statewide bond referendum was in 2000.
Roughly half of the 2016 bond would go toward the University of North Carolina system, with another 17 percent dedicated to the North Carolina Community College System.
"The March 15 primary means we have a great deal of work to get done in a short period of time," Sinclair said.
It's unclear who the bond committee might use as the face of its campaign. Cornerstone Solutions was a consultant for McCrory's 2012 campaign, but is not currently working for his 2016 bid, according to Sinclair. Crone's clients include state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and the North Carolina Association of Realtors.
"There have not been any discussions at this time on how we will frame the messaging for the bond," Crone said. "We are just formulating timelines for research and focus groups. Any speculation about who's going to appear in a television ad right now is just pure folly."
Sinclair confirmed that there haven't been any discussions about who will appear in advertising for the bond effort.
Sinclair said the official paperwork to create a referendum committee to support the bond should be filed Wednesday with the State Board of Elections. Unlike candidate committees, the referendum committee may accept contributions from corporations and does not have to abide by the $5,100 cap on individual per-election contributions that apply to candidates for offices such as the state legislature.