Candidates from all political backgrounds are pouring millions into ads in the run-up to the May 17 primary election in North Carolina. Intensity surged this week, fueled by outside backers.
In the Triangle market alone, at least $530,000 was spent this week on political ads running on broadcast and cable networks, according to data from ad tracking firm AdImpact. That’s almost four times more than last week. Although down slightly next week, nearly half a million more ads will run then. Most ads are used to support Republican candidates.
In total, at least $2.65 million was spent on primary season political ads in the market. More than half of that comes from the Club for Growth Action, a prominent political action committee that works to elect hard-line conservatives.
“It’s about outside organizations playing a bigger role in influencing what’s going to happen in the state,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist.
Much of the ad spending across the state has been focused on the controversial battle for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. The seat is vacated by retired US Senator Richard Burr, a Republican.
The campaign of U.S. Representative Ted Budd, a frontrunner for the seat who is backed by former President Donald Trump, spent nearly $60,000 on Triangle ads this week, up from $13,832 last week.
Budd’s campaign has already spent at least $329,000 on in-market ads during the primary season. That’s more than seven times his closest competitor, former Gov. Pat McCrory, who spent at least $42,960 on ads that have already aired or are scheduled to air in the area.
Budd used his ads to accuse McCrory of being too liberal, while McCrory attempted to cast Budd as someone who sympathized with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
The expenses for the two candidates are only a fraction of the money that should be spent in the state.
Joe Kildea, a spokesman for the Club for Growth Action, said this week the group has spent $8.4 million since the start of the election cycle to bolster Budd’s prospects. The organization plans to spend at least $5.6 million more on the liquidation of the primary, Kildea said.