Political notebook: Outside groups spending more than candidates in 13th District

Published 12:10 am Saturday, May 28, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — The latest 13th Congressional District campaign finance reports show money spent by outside political groups as exceeding what’s been spent by all candidates combined.

Money doesn’t necessarily determine the outcome of an election, but it can be an indicator of support. In North Carolina’s 13th District race, money is at least a topic of conversation among candidates. Specifically, some candidates are concerned about money from outside political groups, which have spent money on behalf of Mocksville Republican Julia Howard and Advance Republican Tedd Budd.

Combined, the Club for Growth and the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund have spent $823,055 in the 13th District race, according to files with the Federal Elections Commission. Budd has been the beneficiary of about $500,000 from the Club for Growth. Howard stands to benefit from about $326,532 in spending from the Realtors’ group.

By comparison, all Republican 13th District candidates combined — including Budd and Howard — have spent $322,955, according to the latest reports by candidates in the 13th District. Even when Democratic Party candidates are added into the mix, outside money still tops the amount spent by candidates.

Mooresville attorney George Rouco appears to be the biggest spender of 13th District candidates. However, FEC records of his campaign’s expenses date back to a previous run for congress. The latest finance reports also show Kay Daly among the top spenders. Like Rouco, however, she was also running in a different congressional district before federal judges declared North Carolina’s congressional maps unconstitutional.

If Rouco and Daly are excluded, Budd’s campaign ranks as the biggest spender at $57,501, according to the latest reports. Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning ranks second at $30,465. Rowan County Republican and State Rep. Harry Warren ranks third at $28,610.

Ranking the total amount raised by each candidate is also deceptive because three candidates have loaned their campaign hefty amounts of money. In other words, a large amount of the money comes comes from the candidates rather than potential voters. Attorney and Davie County Commissioner Dan Barrett is at the top of the loan list with $180,000 that he has contributed to his own campaign. Davie County Republican and State Sen. Andrew Brock has loaned his campaign $100,000. Budd has loaned his campaign $50,000.

Barrett, Brock and Budd aren’t the only Republican candidates to loan their campaigns money. However, the trio far outpace any other candidate who has loaned money to their campaign.

Poll gives Trump, Burr small leads in NC

A poll released by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling shows small advantages for Republicans in two of the most important races on North Carolina’s November ballots.

The poll gives Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a 43-41 advantage over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The poll notes that 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney won North Carolina by two points in 2012.

“There was so much talk earlier this year of Clinton winning some sort of historical landslide that expectation got out of whack and now fuel perceptions that she’s doing really poorly, but the bottom line is she’s pretty much where Obama was in an election that while relatively close in the popular vote ended up as an electoral college landslide,” Public Policy Polling states in a summary of its results.

The same poll also asked North Carolina voters about the state’s U.S. Senate race, which features incumbent Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. Public Policy Polling found Burr leads by just three points over Ross — 39 percent to 36 percent.

Tillis introduces veterans amendment

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis this week joined senators from three other states to introduce a measure that would help those erroneously given a less-than-honorable discharge from the military.

Tillis, a Republican, joined another Republican and two Democrats in introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would help veterans discharged because of behavior resulting from mental traumas, including post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.

A news release about the amendment states the measure would give “liberal consideration to petitions for changes in discharge status to honorable if the servicemember has PTSD, TBI or related conditions in connection with their military service.” Post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury resulting from sexual trauma could also be included as a consideration.

“So many of our servicemembers have developed PTSD and brain injuries while on active duty, many of whom were undiagnosed until long after their service was completed,” Tillis said in a news release. “We should provide a fair opportunity for these brave men and women to regain the benefits they lost as a result of conditions we now know were caused by the effects of the trauma they sustained during their service to our nation.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.