North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) is attacking Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) as an Obama lackey in his first television ad — while playing up his own business credentials instead of his legislative experience.
"Kay Hagan enabled President Obama's worst ideas. She refuses to clean up his mess, so you and I have to clean up hers," Tillis says in the spot.
Polling shows Obama's weakened position could hurt Hagan in the state. An early December automated poll by the North Carolina-based Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found his approval rating had dropped to 44 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. In that poll, Hagan had a narrow 2-point lead on Tillis, who was unknown by most voters.
Hagan's support of ObamaCare has been a focus of the attacks against her. Tillis joins in, ripping the law as a "disaster," and knocks politicians of both parties for failing to rein in the national debt.
Tillis is the front-runner for the GOP nomination and has the backing of many national Republicans. But he's facing two conservative primary challengers: Mark Harris and Greg Brannon.
Tillis doesn't mention his role as House Speaker in the ad, instead appearing in a boardroom and talking of his private sector experience. The ad's tagline reiterates that theme, pegging him as a "Businessman. Conservative."
"Thom Tillis must have gotten a new version of history for Christmas since his ad talks big game about accountability but fails to mention the pay-to-play and special interest scandals in his closet," Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner shot back. "Kay has always been accountable to North Carolina families, proving she can stand up to members of both parties when the state's best interests were on the line, but Tillis has never shown that type of leadership, especially when it comes to his special interest backers."
The battle against the first-term Democrat in the GOP-leaning state is likely to be one of the most expensive races in the country. A top GOP target, the North Carolina seat is crucial to the six Republicans need to win a Senate majority.
Outside groups on both sides have already spent millions of dollars on advertising. The conservative Americans for Prosperity launched its latest ad against Hagan on Thursday, while the liberal Senate Majority PAC has been airing ads defending her record.