Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Saturday framed her re-election campaign as a contrast between out-of-state special interests and North Carolina interests.
Coming just more than three weeks before the May 6 primary, Hagan’s comments at the Mecklenburg County Democratic convention appeared to target her leading GOP opponent, House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Hagan blasted Republican legislative actions, particularly the new voting law, which, among other things, will require photo identification, as well as what she said were tax cuts for the rich.
She tied those actions to special interest money in the form of more than $8 million in anti-Hagan ads, much of it from the conservative Americans for Prosperity.
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“When I look at the amount of money coming into North Carolina … and I look at the agenda passed in Raleigh, they are thanking Thom Tillis with an $8 million ad buy against me,” she said. “They are looking for someone whose strings they can pull in Washington, and they know they cannot pull mine.”
Republicans point to what they call special interest money spent for Hagan. One super PAC tied to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has spent more than $2.4 million on ads targeting Tillis.
“It appears that Kay Hagan’s hypocrisy knows no bounds,” said Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw. “Thom Tillis will continue to be proud of the fact that he has solved problems in Raleigh while Kay Hagan has voted with Barack Obama and Harry Reid and her far left special interests 96 percent of the time.”
Tillis is one of eight Republican Senate candidates. He has led most polls.
Hagan also defended the Affordable Care Act, which most of her GOP rivals have pledged to try to repeal and which Republicans have criticized her for supporting.
She said she supports the law but would make changes, such as allowing people to keep their current plans. She said repealing the law “would take us back to a time where if you had a pre-existing condition it would not be covered.”
Women, she added, would pay more than men, and seniors would pay more for prescription drug coverage.
Hagan, who did not attend President Barack Obama’s appearance in Raleigh in January, said she would welcome the president to North Carolina.
“This race is about who’s going to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate,” she said. “This is going to be a contrast between me putting North Carolinians first and the special interests.”
(Note: Story updated at noon April 14, 2014, to remove an incorrect reference to what type of organization Americans for Prosperity is. The group is a 501(c)(4), and is not a political action committee.)