BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
A Republican connected super political action committee (PAC) out of Washington, D.C. called “Faith and Power,” is spending over $1.6 million in television and radio ads running in four North Carolina television markets promoting State Senator Erica Smith’s candidacy for the U. S. Senate in the 2020 election.
The goal, many observers are certain, is to promote Smith’s cash-strapped campaign to the extent that she beats Democratic senatorial opponent, Cal Cunningham, in the March 3, 2020, Democratic primary, thus pitting the Black female Democrat, seen by Republicans as an easier candidate to beat against first term incumbent, Tillis, in November.
Smith, of State Senate District 3, representing Beaufort, Bertie, Martin, Northampton, Vance and Warren counties and her campaign, naturally “disavows and disassociates” the fake ads, even though they promote her as being a true progressive who supports Medicare for All and “The Green New Deal.”
“We reject the influence of special interest corporate PAC and dark money in politics,” Smith said. “I remain unbought, unbossed, and unapologetic in my 17 years of advocating for equity, opportunity, and fairness,” Sen. Smith’s campaign added.
The North Carolina Democratic Party charged that “Republican ‘meddling’ in the Democratic primary shows Republicans must be worried about Thom Tillis.”
“Faith and Power PAC” is the producer of the 30 second ad, according to published reports. Though the PAC itself was just created several weeks ago, some connected are listed as supporting Republican Carly Fiorina’s 2016 presidential bid. The only public name associated with the PAC in North Carolina is that of a Republican named Ezekiel Patterson of Monroe.
Trying to choose Tillis’ Democratic November opponent for him is one possibility. Another is to force Cunningham, who reportedly has a deep campaign war chest of $3.3 million on hand, to start spending some of it now to defend whatever lead he believes he has over Smith in the polls. Doing so depletes what he has to spend against Tillis in the fall.
Tillis, who is admittedly a strong supporter of President Trump, is seen as one of the weakest GOP incumbent senators up for re-election in the nation, according to the most recent polls. So the election year ploy is not a surprising one.
It is illegal for a super PAC to coordinate its activities with a campaign. In small writing at the end of the Faith and Power television ad, it states that it is not authorized by any candidate or political campaign. The TV ads are running up until just before the March 3, 2020 primaries in the Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro markets, as well as online.