RALEIGH, N.C. -- High-profile North Carolina Republicans are benefiting from a marked fundraising advantage over Democratic rivals entering the fall campaign's final days, led by gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory.
McCrory's campaign said Tuesday it raised $5 million during the past 3 1/2 months, compared to more than $1.4 million by the campaign of Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democratic nominee, according to reports for the State Board of Elections that were due Monday.
GOP House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger have given more than $1 million apiece to the Republican Party to help colleagues in key legislative races they hope will help retain or expand Republican majorities in their respective chambers. Democratic legislative leaders are well behind. And an outside group has now spent $1.6 million on a TV commercial featuring a banjo-picking singer backing conservative-leaning Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby.
McCrory's campaign outspent Dalton by a 4-to-1 margin from July 1 through Oct. 20 _ reflected in McCrory's TV ad advantage _ and had a 6-to-1 cash advantage entering the final two weeks of the campaign, the filings said.
McCrory's third-quarter fundraising was boosted by a flurry of visits by out-of-state GOP governors, including New Jersey's Chris Christie and Wisconsin's Scott Walker. His campaign has raised nearly $11.6 million for the election cycle, which began in 2009. McCrory started raising money in earnest for a repeat gubernatorial bid in 2011.
"These latest fundraising numbers are further proof that Pat's positive vision is resonating with the people of North Carolina," McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz wrote in an email.
Dalton has raised $3.9 million this election cycle, or less than what McCrory raised since July 1. Dalton campaign spokesman Ford Porter said the comparison is disingenuous because McCrory previously ran for governor in 2008 and Dalton was planning to seek re-election as lieutenant governor until Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue announced in January she wouldn't run again.
"While we always expected to be outraised, the lieutenant governor is incredibly proud of the support he's seen in such a brief window of time" from more than 3,000 individual donors, Porter said in a statement.
An Elon University poll released Monday showed McCrory received 52 percent support among likely voters surveyed while Dalton received 38 percent. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear was slated to attend a Charlotte fundraiser for Dalton on Tuesday night, while Colorado's John Hickenlooper was featured in a Tuesday morning fundraising email.
In the legislative races, Tillis' committee sent $400,000 and Berger $200,000 last week to the state GOP, according to last-minute reports political committees must file. Berger, R-Rockingham, has now forwarded $1.2 million and Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, sent $1.1 million to the party since early 2011.
Legislative leaders and their top lieutenants give money to their parties, which in turn can spend or give unlimited amounts to candidates in tough races. Republican Party donations are helping move hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates in two key districts: Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, who is trying to defeat Democratic incumbent Doug Berger of Franklin County; and Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, who is trying to withstand a challenge from former Sen. John Snow, D-Cherokee.
Senate Democratic Minority Whip Josh Stein of Wake County reported giving $265,000 to the state Democratic Party through mid-October.
House Minority Whip Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, has raised $245,000 for the Republican Party and Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, has given $158,000, according to filings.
Among House Democrats, Rep. Verla Insko of Orange County has sent $87,000 to the state Democratic Party and Rep. Rick Glazier of Cumberland County has sent $62,500. The state party has contributed $131,000 to former Rep. Cullie Tarleton, D-Watauga, who is running against Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, who beat Tarleton in 2010.
The top donor for the North Carolina Judicial Coalition, which is paying for the banjo ads, has been Justice for All NC, another third-party group that had sent $720,000 to the coalition as of late last week. The Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee is the leading donor to Justice for All.
Newby is seeking to win an eight-year term on the state's highest court. He and his challenger, Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV are running in an officially nonpartisan race that is shadowed by politics. An Ervin victory means four of the seven justices would be Democrats by voter registration when the court is expected to consider legal challenges to Republican redistricting maps. Newby is a registered Republican.
Common Sense Matters, which is being funded by historically Democratic-leaning groups, has spent $553,000 trying to influence the General Assembly and Newby-Ervin races. The Republican-leaning Real Jobs NC has spent $762,000 backing legislative candidates and McCrory, campaign reports said.