Political ad spending surges in NC, boosted by outside groups

8 April 2022

Candidates across the political spectrum are pouring millions of dollars into ads in the walkup to North Carolina’s May 17 primary elections. The intensity surged this week, fueled by outside financial backers.

In the Triangle market alone, at least $530,000 was spent this week on political ads airing on broadcast and cable networks, according to data from ad-tracking company AdImpact. That’s almost a four-fold increase over last week. While slightly down next week, nearly another half a million dollars worth of ads is set to air then.Most of the ads are being used to back Republican candidates.

In total, at least $2.65 million has been spent on primary-season political ads in the market. More than half of that has come from Club for Growth Action, a prominent political action committee that works to elect hard-line conservatives.

“This is about outside organizations playing an increased role in affecting what’s going to happen in the state,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist.

Much of the ad spending across the state has been focused on the contentious battle for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate. The seat is being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican.

Trump North Carolina

The campaign for U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, a frontrunner for the seat who is backed by former President Donald Trump, spent almost $60,000 on Triangle ads this week, up from $13,832 last week.

Budd’s campaign has already spent at least $329,000 on ads in the market during the primary season. That’s more than seven times his closest competitor, former Gov. Pat McCrory, who has spent at least $42,960 on ads that have either already run or are scheduled to run in the area.

Budd has used his ads to accuse McCrory of being too liberal, while McCrory has attempted to cast Budd as someone who sympathizes with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

McCrory campaign ad: Budd excuses Putin

Spending for both candidates is a fraction of the money expected to be spent around the state.

Joe Kildea, a spokesman for Club for Growth Action said this week that the group spent $8.4 million since the start of the election cycle to bolster Budd’s prospects. The organization plans to spend at least $5.6 million more in the windup to the primary, Kildea said.

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