Two TV ads unveiled Thursday – including the first in North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate primary – target Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan over her support of the new health care law.
They echo a theme being played out across the country as Republicans and their allies pound Democrats over the law known as “Obamacare.”
An ad by N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius, one of five GOP Senate candidates, blasts Hagan’s support of the Affordable Care Act. The ad launches next week with a $300,000 buy.
And Americans for Prosperity, a group aligned with the conservative Koch brothers, is spending $1.4 million on new statewide spots attacking Hagan.
Since October the group has spent $4.2 million on such ads, fueling what is already one of the country’s most expensive Senate races. Altogether, outside groups have spent at least $9.7 million.
In his ad, Tillis calls the health law “a disaster.”
“And the president won’t admit it,” he says. “Kay Hagan enabled President Obama’s worst ideas. She refuses to clean up his mess. So you and I have to clean up hers.”
Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said Tillis shares the blame for higher premiums.
She cited some health care experts who have said the state’s decision – supported by Tillis – not to run its own health care exchange has resulted in less competition and generally higher premiums.
Officials with the N.C. Department of Insurance, for example, have suggested that the state’s failure to create its own exchange probably dissuaded some insurers from entering the state market.
Tillis’ ad is running in Asheville, Wilmington and the Triad TV markets, but not in the state’s two most costly and most dense TV markets, Raleigh and Charlotte.
The Americans for Prosperity ad features Sheila Salter of Chapel Hill, a Republican who runs a Triangle health care company. In it, she says her policy was canceled, leaving her with a temporary policy she says costs 20 percent more, and the promise of paying even more for a new policy.
“Kay Hagan, she just doesn’t get it,” Salter says in the ad.
Last year she testified before the Senate Small Business Committee, saying the law is raising her business’s health care costs.
The AFP ad is the second to feature a woman criticizing Hagan over the health care law. It’s also part of a buy that happens to target three female Democratic incumbents.
Similar ads have begun in Louisiana against Sen. Mary Landrieu and in New Hampshire against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
For Republicans, Obamacare is an easy target to hammer. Polls continue to show the law unpopular.
According to Real Clear Politics, an average of national polls shows only 39 percent of those surveyed support the law, while 53 percent oppose it.
Though Hagan supports the law, she has co-sponsored a bill that would allow people to keep their current policy.
“Kay supports a commonsense fix to allow people to keep their plans, but all of her opponents and their special interest backers want to go back to a time when insurance companies can charge women more for coverage, drop you … when you get sick and deny you care altogether because of a pre-existing condition,” Weiner said in a statement.
Last month the Capitol Hill Roll Call reported that no race in the country has attracted as much outside spending as North Carolina’s.
John Frank of the (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.
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