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Outside spending in last year's races passed $14.5 million

The Institute for Southern Studies has tallied up the final spending by outside groups in North Carolina political campaigns last year. The results are pretty much the same as the nonprofit public policy group came up with in November, but some of the updated numbers are worth noting:

The N.C. Supreme Court race drew more than $2.8 million in spending from independent groups. Eighty-nine percent of it was spent to elect Justice Paul Newby over appellate court Judge Sam Ervin IV. The N.C. Judicial Coalition spent $1.9 million to help Newby.

The governor’s race attracted more than $8.1 million in outside spending.

The biggest outside spender of all was the Republican Governors Association, based in Washington, D.C., which spent more than $4.9 million to elect Pat McCrory governor. National corporations are the big contributors to the RGA, along with North Carolina-based businesses such as Reynolds Tobacco, Duke Energy and Variety Stores (owned by state budget director Art Pope).

In all, more than $14.5 million was spent by independent groups. The Institute for Southern Studies has its numbers online at its website.

UPDATE:The liberal group Common Sense Matters spent close to $1 million. As previously reported, that group gets its money from the N.C. Futures Action Fund (which was involved in the Wake school board elections in 2011), the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, N.C. Advocates for Justice (the trial lawyers), America Votes Action Fund (a national liberal group), the N.C. Association of Educators, and a couple of Planned Parenthood entities.

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