Thursday, February 06, 2020

The Elections of March: Dark Money Enters the Democratic Senate Primary

Erica Smith
Reporting in The Hill: "Mystery group backs outsider Democrat challenging Tillis in North Carolina."

The mystery group: Something calling itself Faith and Power PAC, which "sprang into existence only last week."

The "outsider Democrat" benefitting from the PAC's money: NC State Senator Erica Smith (NCS3), who in the latest Public Policy Polling is drawing 12% support to Cal Cunningham's 22% and who has loudly expressed her disgust with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for backing Cunningham as the most viable option instead of her.

The Hill tracks the dark money to Republican-connected organs and groups. It's not the first time that veiled outside money has tried to elevate Smith's profile: Back last August billboards went up in the state warning that Erica Smith was "TOO LIBERAL for North Carolina," a claim that Smith "was eager to use ... as evidence that she’s the most feared challenger to Republican incumbent Thom Tillis .... But [according to Nathan Gonzales in Roll Call] Republicans were targeting Smith because they believe she’s the weaker potential general election foe, not because they’re afraid of her."

The Faith and Power PAC TV ads for Smith also play up her liberal cred: “Who’s the Democrat for U.S. Senate endorsed by progressives and unions? Erica Smith. Who’s got the courage to vote for 'Medicare for All?' Erica Smith. The number one supporter of the Green New Deal? Erica Smith again. Erica Smith is one of us,” a narrator says in the ad. “Vote Democrat Erica Smith for U.S. Senate, the only proven progressive.”

The outside meddling in our Democratic senatorial primary is merely another sign of our times -- that so much dangles on threads pulled by men with lots of money.

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