NC US Senate Campaigning Exceeds $100 Million

RALEIGH — There has been ad, after ad, after ad this campaign season. All of that advertising has added up to some big bucks.

According to the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race crossed the $100 million threshold on Wednesday. About $19 million of that spending is from incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan’s campaign and about $8 million from Republican challenger Thom Tillis. That leaves over $72 million from outside interest groups.

“It is staggering,” said David McLennan with Meredith College. “If you look at the previous record of expenditures in the Senate race, the Elizabeth Warren race of couple years ago, we are 20 percent over that. almost 25 percent over that.”

“Both sides are willing to spend here, and match whatever the other does,” said Mac McCorkle with Duke University. “So, there is a real question about whether all this money could have probably been spent more effectively somewhere else. But no one wants to vacate this field. It’s that important.”

In the past two weeks alone, a Kantar Media study shows that there have been over 20,000 ads for this Senate race. About 12,000 of the ads have been for Democrats and 8,000 for Republicans.

Political observers say anecdotal evidence suggests with this much spending it has almost a numbing effect on the public, who actually may have started to tune out to what is being said in the onslaught of ads.

Political observers say with all of the money being spent, it does leave one big question.

“We are in the most expensive race in history, and I think the question is, what has it produced?” said McLennan. “We were close at the beginning of the campaign between the two candidates. We’re close now. So it doesn’t seem to have had that much impact on voters.”

- Loretta Boniti

Despite Shortened Period, Early Voting Numbers High

CHARLOTTE—Even with one week less of early voting this year than last, in-person voting continues to outpace levels from the last midterm election in North Carolina and Democratic voters also are outperforming their 2010 totals.

Saturday is the last day for early voting in North Carolina.

State Board of Elections data show more than 690,000 people had cast ballots through Wednesday at in-person voting centers in all 100 counties. In 2010, the number of ballots was just over 600,000 with three days to go before early voting ended. Early voting closes Saturday afternoon.

Democrats have cast 49 percent of all early in-person votes this fall, compared to 47 percent in all of early voting in 2010. Republicans comprise 31 percent of the vote and unaffiliated voters are at 20 percent.

Voter turnout may be driven by the Senate race. The battle between Sen. Kay Hagan and challenger Thom Tillis has become one of the most closely watched races in the entire country.

The General Assembly reduced early voting last year from 17 to 10 days.

An Elon university poll has Hagan with a slight edge over Tillis with likely voters choosing the incumbent 44 percent to Tillis at 40 percent.

Among registered voters, Hagan’s lead jumps to 7 percent.

- Leslie Mayes

Condoleezza Rice backs Tillis in US Senate Race

CORNELIUS, N.C.–Thom Tillis has received the endorsement of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in North Carolina’s close U.S. Senate race.

Tillis’ campaign released a statement Friday quoting Rice in which she calls the state House speaker “an effective leader who can work across the aisle to solve problems and make our government more accountable to the people.”

The Rice endorsement comes in the final days before Tillis’ election with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

Rice worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, also serving as national security adviser. Rice’s backing comes as national security issues, including the Islamic State and Ebola, have taken a larger role in the campaign debate.

Former President Bill Clinton was scheduled to campaign with Hagan later Friday in Raleigh.

Former President Clinton Visiting Raleigh Friday to Campaign for Hagan

RALEIGH — Former President Bill Clinton will be in Raleigh on Friday campaigning for Kay Hagan. The event will be at the Holliday Gymnasium at Broughton High School and doors will open at 2:45 p.m.

The event is free and anyone may attend with a ticket. Tickets can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the following locations:

Raleigh Forward NC Office
3316 Capital Blvd Suites J and K

Cary Forward NC Office
915 Kildaire Farm Rd Suite 6

Chapel Hill Forward NC Office
762 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd

Durham Forward NC Office
119 Orange St. 3rd Floor

Wilson County Democratic Party Office
504 Raleigh Rd Parkway

Smithfield Forward NC Office
114 Ava Gardner Ave

Mitt Romney campaigns for Tillis as race tightens

RALEIGH—North Carolina’s US Senate race continues to receive national attention with many polls showing a tight race between Thom Tillis and Senator Kay Hagan.

Mitt Romney fired up a crowd of Thom Tillis supporters Wednesday night in Raleigh.

“I am delighted to be here to introduce a guy of character. A person who has great experience. A man of vision. A man as Secretary of State has demonstrated what he can do to make things happen for the people of this great state,” said former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The former presidential candidate was among several speakers leading up to the U.S. Senate candidate, who is hoping to defeat his opponent Kay Hagan next week.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about what’s out there. I’m proud of my record as Speaker of the House and I’m going to be proud of my record as U.S. Senator. I’m going to come back and tell you what I’ve done for this nation,” said US Senate Candidate Thom Tillis.

The line outside for the event, and the big name appearance served as an indicator of how important this race has become.

“I’m really excited to see Mitt Romney. I’m seen him speak before and he’s a wonderful speaker,” said Raleigh resident Katelyn Heith.

“It wouldn’t surprise if this race is one of the closest ones in the entire country,” said Charlotte resident Jeffrey Berlin.

It is a race that has been close throughout the entire campaign. With less than a week to go both candidates are trying to gain momentum heading into the polls.

“Unless something big happens on the national stage or something unexpected happens and that old October surprise happens I don’t think we’ll see a big momentum shift push candidate or the other six or seven points ahead,” said David McLennan with Meredith College.

In a race that is setting up for a photo finish, both candidates continue to campaign hard for your vote.

- Andy Mattison

Capital Tonight Oct. 29: At Home with Senator Kay Hagan

On Capital Tonight: Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti visits Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and her family at their home in Greensboro. We look at Hagan’s political career and why she wants to run for a second term. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Extended Interview: Sen. Kay Hagan

Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti speaks with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan about her political career, her accomplishments and why she is running for a second term. Watch the interview here.

Poll: Kay Hagan Retains Slight Edge Over Thom Tillis

An Elon University poll released Thursday morning shows Sen. Kay Hagan has a slight edge over her Republican challenger Thom Tillis.

The survey shows Hagan leads Tillis by 4 percent among likely voters at 44-to 40 percent.

The gap widens to 7 percent among registered voters with tillis dropping to 37 percent. Despite record breaking campaign spending, the race will still be a close finish.

“There’s a lot of money being spent on this race. This is going to be the most expensive midterm election in history and North Carolina is likely to be the most expensive senate race in history,” said Poll Director Kenneth Fernandez.

A major change from the last poll, was the support for gay marriage. Before the ban was lifted 45 percent supported, with 43 percent against.

Afterwards only 38 percent of likely voters support gay marriage, with 50 percent against.

According to the poll likely voters who oppose gay marriage are more prone to vote for Tillis than Hagan.

View the full results here.

Suspect in Death of Democratic Strategist Pleads Not Guilty

RALEIGH—The man facing charges in the 2013 death of Democratic fundraiser Jamie Hahn pleaded not guilty to all charges in court on Wednesday.

Jonathan Broyhill, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Hahn in her
North Raleigh home last April.

He underwent a mental evaluation a few months ago but his attorney said he doesn’t expect to raise any defense of diminished mental capacity at trial.

Broyhill worked for Hahn’s political fundraising firm, Sky Blue Strategies, and managed campaign funds for former congressman Brad Miller.

His trial is set to begin in February.

NC DHHS Details Strategies For Handling Potential Ebola Cases

RALEIGH — State health officials gave an update Wednesday on how they are preparing for the possibility that someone in the state could be diagnosed with Ebola.

The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Aldona Wos hosted the conference call to answer questions about what the state is doing to handle a potential case of someone affected with the virus.

Wos said there two categories that someone with a potential Ebola exposure fits into and they monitor those cases carefully.

“Our second category was travelers with an Ebola exposure risk, but with no symptoms. And our third category was travelers from affected areas with no risks whatsoever that we can identify. So those are our two, category No. 2 and category No. 3. Presently in the state we have a few,” said Wos.

The state laboratory of public health is one of 15 sites in the country to test blood samples for Ebola infections. Wos said as of Tuesday the state’s Ebola information website has been visited more than 18,000 people.

There are no cases of Ebola in North Carolina.