Gubernatorial campaign's air war kicks off during Sunday Night Football

Posted October 26, 2015
Updated October 27, 2015

— Gov. Pat McCrory hasn't formally declared he's seeking re-election next year, but a television ad that aired during Sunday Night Football appears to be the first to air on his campaign's behalf.

Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group tied to conservative candidates and causes, said it's spending "six figures" to air the 30-second spot, which praises McCrory and Republican lawmakers for cutting taxes.

"People all across North Carolina are smiling a little more," the ad declares. "Why? Because Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly cut taxes again. Lower taxes mean more money in your pocket – money for what your family really need."

AFP aired an ad urging lawmakers to cut taxes earlier in the year, but that one did not name a specific politician. This ad calls out McCrory specifically, along with lawmakers generically.

"It's because of their commitments to limiting government spending and letting taxpayers keep more money that our state is emerging as an economic powerhouse," Donald Bryson, AFP's state director, said in a news release.

Legally, the ad in question is an "issue ad," not one that has to be reported to campaign regulators, because it does not explicitly argue for the election or defeat of any one candidate. But from a practical standpoint, the 30-second spot can't help but bolster McCrory's campaign by portraying him in a very visible light before voters.

AFP has frequently been a player in North Carolina campaigns. In 2014, they targeted negative issue ads at then-U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan months before she had an official Republican opponent.

The 2016 gubernatorial campaign is less hazy. McCrory is widely expected to run, although in recent weeks he has declined to answer questions about next year's campaign. Attorney General Roy Cooper is the best known and best financed of a field of candidates hoping to challenge McCrory. Both will have to clear the March 15 primary before meeting in the general election campaign.

While both Cooper and McCrory are poised to spend millions of dollars in their campaigns, millions more are expected to pour in from outside groups such as AFP. The ad that first aired Sunday night appears to be the first of many on the campaign that won't conclude for more than a year from now.

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  • Jeff Herring Oct 27, 2015
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    AFP is a Kock brothers front group promoting tax cuts for the rich and destruction of the public schools, social security and other needed provisions for the middle class. They are evil and are killing the middle class.