Raleigh, N.C. — State House Speaker Thom Tillis is getting ready to air his first ad of the 2014 U.S. Senate race, the Mecklenburg County Republican's campaign said Thursday.
Tillis' ad, which is scheduled to go on the air in the middle of next week, appears to be the first by an individual candidate this cycle, although it isn't Tillis' first appearance in a campaign-style TV ad. He was the front man for an ad put up last year by North Carolina House Legislative Partners, an outside spending group whose founders said they wanted to boost the agenda of GOP state lawmakers. His buy also comes months after outside groups began their part in the campaign air war.
The 30-second spot features shots of Tillis working in an office environment, and the candidate himself narrates the ad.
"Kay Hagan enabled President Obama's worst ideas," Tillis says in the spot. "She refuses to clean up his mess, so you and I have to clean up hers."
Hagan, a Democrat, is likely to cruise to her party's nomination to run for a second term in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Tillis may be the best known of an unsettled Republican field that also includes Cary obstetrician Greg Brannon and Charlotte minister Mark Harris.
"I don't think you should look at the ad as ignoring the primary," said Jordan Shaw, Tillis' campaign manager. "Obviously, that's in May, and we're working towards that. This race is about beating Kay Hagan. This primary is about beating Kay Hagan."
The ad focuses on Hagan's support for the Affordable Care Act, which Tillis calls "a disaster."
Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for Hagan, blasted Tillis' ad.
"Kay has always been accountable to North Carolina families, proving she can stand up to members of both parties when the state's best interests were on the line, but Tillis has never shown that type of leadership, especially when it comes to his special interest backers," Weiner said in an email.
The campaign plans to spend $300,000, airing it "in western North Carolina, the coast, and the Piedmont Triad," according to a news release from the campaign. That amount is about a quarter of what Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative group, is spending to air anti-Hagan ads that will be airing over the next three weeks.
As a side note: Tillis wears a light blue lapel pin in the shape of a puzzle piece throughout the ad. That is a symbol for Autism Speaks and was worn by those pushing lawmakers to require that private health insurers in North Carolina cover diagnosis and treatment of disorders on the autism spectrum. That measure passed in 2013 with Tillis' support.