Spending by third-party groups in North Carolina legislative races appears to have been more even than in the previous election cycle, even as Republicans dominated individual and caucus fundraising, Scott Mooneyham at The Insider reports.
IRS documents and state campaign finance reports seem to indicate that the spending by the two major 527 groups in North Carolina -- Real Jobs NC, which backed Republican candidates, and Common Sense Matters, which backed Democratic candidates, spent similar amounts. Those reports show Real Jobs NC spending $812,605, compared to $773,641 for Common Sense Matters.
A final IRS form accounting for all spending Real Jobs NC had not yet been filed, so a complete accounting of its spending may not be included in the figures. Unlike Common Sense Matters, Real Jobs NC put some of its money toward the gubernatorial race in supporting Pat McCrory.
In 2010 election cycle, Real Jobs NC spent more than $1.5 million, or nearly twice as much as in the most recent election cycle. But spending by the Republican and Democratic parties and caucuses was much closer that year. The campaigns of Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis combined to give nearly $2.5 million to the party and caucus treasuries in 2012. Democratic leaders contributed just a fraction of that amount. Michael Weisel, general counsel of Common Sense Matters, said the third-party spending still left Republicans in swing districts with far more total money for campaign media than Democrats. He estimated that GOP candidates in targeted districts spent, on average, between three and four times that of their Democratic opponents. Some Republicans have contended that the outside spending created a more even playing field than Democrats want to acknowledge.
Whatever the actual figures, Republicans and Real Jobs NC succeeded in the majority of districts that were targeted. The two groups did not target all of the same districts. They both spent heavily on the contest in which incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Davis beat former Democratic Sen. John Snow in Senate District 50, in House District 93 where Republican Rep. Jonathan Jordan beat former Democratic Rep. Cullie Tarlteton, in House District 115 where Republican Nathan Ramsey beat Democrat Susan Wilson, and in Senate District 46 where Republican Warren Daniel beat Democrat John McDevitt. Real Jobs' top donors were the Republican Governors Association, which gave $275,000, and the Republican State Leadership Committee, which provided $200,000. Common Sense Matters received $295,000 from the N.C. Futures Action Fund, $150,000 from the N.C. Association of Educators and $80,000 from the N.C. League of Conservation Voters.