More ads are going on the airwaves in North Carolina's U.S. Senate race in the new year, including the expected first by a candidate in the campaign by Republican Thom Tillis.
The conservative-leaning Americans for Prosperity announced it has begun another round of commercials critical of the health care overhaul law and Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
The latest ad, which features a small business owner unhappy with her new coverage option, began running Thursday and will run in nearly every television market over three weeks for $1.4 million, according to group spokesman Donald Bryson. The ad buy brings total spending related to AFP's three ads since October focused upon Hagan to $4.2 million, he added.
Tillis' campaign also unveiled an online ad he told supporters will run on TV next week in most markets at a cost of nearly $300,000. The state House speaker is one of at least five announced Republican candidates seeking to challenge Hagan.
The decision reflects Tillis' lead among the GOP candidates in fundraising, at least through September. Candidates don't have to file numbers with federal regulators on what they raised for the past three months until late January. Other leading Republican candidates the Rev. Mark Harris and physician Greg Brannon joined Tillis in blitzing supporters with fundraising appeals before the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Tillis, a Charlotte-area Republican, says in his ad the health care law is a "disaster and the president won't admit it," while the federal debt is out of control and "neither party has stopped it."
Hagan "enabled President Obama's worst idea," Tillis says, facing toward the camera. "She refuses to clean up his mess so you and I have to clean up hers."
The AFP ad highlights Sheila Salter of Chapel Hill, who said her private policy was canceled due to the overhaul and expects her health care expenses to go up in the next year. She cited Hagan repeating claims Obama and other Democrats previously made that people would be able to keep the insurance coverage they already liked under the 2010 law.
Hagan's campaign slammed the AFP ad as a "new year and a new smear" from a group backed by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. AFP has been running ads in other states critical of Senate Democrats who must lose if Republicans want to retake the Senate in November.
The Greensboro Democrat has been critical of the plan's online rollout and has sought long-term changes so that people can keep their previous plans if they choose. Hagan's team and her allies have pointed out Republican rivals want to repeal the health care overhaul, which would also end its positive benefits.
Hagan "supports a commonsense fix to allow people to keep their plans, but all of her opponents and their special interest backers want to go back to a time when insurance companies can charge women more for coverage, drop you from your plan when you get sick and deny you care altogether because of a pre-existing condition," campaign spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in a release.
A political action committee linked closed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ran its own ad in December supporting Hagan and aimed against Tillis.