The NC Judicial Coalition is on the air again Wednesday with another ad in favor of Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby.
The latest ad, "Noise," is a dignified departure from the group's last outing, the slapstick "banjo ad" depicting comical bad guys running from the "tough but fair" judicial candidate.
"Republicans and Democrats rarely agree," says the narrator in the new ad. "Judge Paul Newby – above the political fray. Impartial, fair-minded."
"Paul Newby – endorsed by four former Chief Justices. Two Republicans, two Democrats. Solomon-like wisdom. Praised for his integrity. Our best and brightest united to support him. Judge Paul Newby."
The state Supreme Court race, like all judicial contests in NC, is officially non-partisan. But neither incumbent Republican Newby nor his Democratic opponent, Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV, has made a secret of their respective partisan leanings.
The race will decide which party holds the majority on the NC Supreme Court, so it's perhaps not surprising that outside money is dwarfing the candidates' fundraising.
The two candidates have each raised around $337,000 for their campaigns.
Newby stands to benefit from an estimated $2 million in third-party support.
The NC Judicial Coalition, led by former state GOP chairman Tom Fetzer, has spent at least $1.6 million to date on the Banjo ad.
More than half a million of that funding came from a separate PAC largely funded by the Republican State Leadership Committee. Other funding for independent pro-Newby ads has come from the NC Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, on whose board NC Republican patron Art Pope serves.
The new ad will add to that total.
Ervin has received outside support, too, but a lot less of it. He's expected to receive about $200,000 from a teachers' group. Democrats and third-party groups are actively soliciting money on Ervin's behalf.