Raleigh, N.C. — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's re-election campaign is getting some help from two outside spending groups who plan to air commercials on her behalf this month.
As Hagan's would-be Republican rivals jockey for position in the May 6 primary, conservative outside spending groups such a Americans for Prosperity have hammered the first-term Democrat with ads critical of her stance of the Affordable Care Act.
Recent polls show those ads are having an impact. While no incumbent fared well in a recent WRAL News poll, the number of voters who viewed Hagan unfavorably was more than 50 percent.
The New York Times first reported that "Senate Majority PAC, a group that supports Democratic Senate candidates, is preparing a $3 million advertising campaign against Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, the libertarian-minded billionaire brothers who support conservative causes and have already poured millions of dollars into the 2014 midterm elections."
The Koch brothers are Americans for Prosperity's most prominent backers.
Senate Majority will spend $1 million airing the ads across North Carolina – double what the group plans to spend in other states that will see pieces of the same campaign. The ad hasn't started running yet, according to the Ty Matsdorf, who speaks for the group. However, if ads the group has already aired in other states are any indication, they will label Americans for Prosperity and the Koch brothers as "outsiders" who are undermining the best interests of the state.
Taking aim at the Koch brothers appears to be a strategy that Democrats and their allies are embracing across a spectrum of candidates and officially independent groups such as Senate Majority PAC. For example, the Hagan campaign just rolled out a website closely tying state House Speaker Thom Tillis, the front-running Republican U.S. Senate candidate, to the Kochs.
Environmental group recycles footage
A coalition of environmental groups will also come to Hagan's aid as part of a $5 million national ad buy they are making on behalf of several members of Congress. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy "will sponsor the North Carolina series of ads, thanking Senator Hagan for protecting North Carolinians from dangerous air pollution," according to a news release.
The ad also riffs on the Koch brothers theme, starting its 30-second run by asking "Who's behind the attacks on Kay Hagan? Oil industry billionaires, that's who."
They ad also puts another trend on display: using B-roll posted by candidates to provide video for commercials aired by outside groups.
Under campaign finance rules, groups like SACE are not allowed to coordinate their ad spending or message with Hagan and other candidates. So, Hagan would not be allowed to specifically pose for any ads developed by the group.
However, as many other candidates have done, Hagan has posted a minute's worth of generic footage, which outside spenders can use. At least five or six shots in the SACE commercial are drawn from the Hagan B-roll.
The practice of posting B-roll for allies to appropriate led Comedy Central's The Daily Show to start an online Meme called McConnelling, named after Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Tillis also has plenty of B-roll available from his YouTube channel. Like Hagan's, it shows him in business settings and talking to constituents.