RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Democratic Party has started running a television ad criticizing Republican leaders at the General Assembly for passing laws that it says hurt women on issues from abortion and child care to Medicaid and the public schools.
The ad features several women, including Gov. Beverly Perdue and state Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, against a backdrop of clocks moving backward and black-and-white photos of women in days gone by.
"It just seems like the Republican leadership has been rolling back women's rights," Tori Taylor of Charlotte says in the 60-second commercial.
Former state Secretary of Cultural Resources Betty McCain, a longtime Democratic Party activist, says that "the GOP has declared war on women."
The ad also includes footage of Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis and Majority Leader Paul Stam of and Perdue calling GOP leaders "a group of folks who represent the fringe of North Carolina public policy."
William Peace University political science professor David McLennan said targeting female voters is logical for Democrats.
At close to 1.6 million, women make up close to 60 percent of registered voters in North Carolina's Democratic Party. Factoring in all voters, more than 3.3 million women represent a powerful voting bloc of about 54 percent statewide.
"It's a strategy, I think, born out of very strong concern over how the Democrats are going to do next year," McLennan said. "It's a high-risk kind of advertising that could pay great dividends but could backfire."
Perdue told WRAL News that the ad is "very factual" and not negative campaigning.
"It talks about the leadership in the General Assembly – the Republican leadership – backing away from women. They've also backed away from our children and our seniors," she said.
State Republican Party spokesman Rob Lockwood called the ad a misrepresentation that won't resonate with voters.
"They're trying to ruin holiday cheer by spreading fear," Lockwood said. "Unfortunately, the Democrats have chosen to play politics yet again instead of advocating any policy in this state that will help people with jobs."
The state party said the ad is running on cable TV in the Charlotte and Raleigh markets. A party spokesman declined to say how much money is being spent on the ad, but an email sent to party supporters asked for donations to keep it running.