Elections

Here’s why Kenny Smith can run more TV ads than Vi Lyles

Republican Kenny Smith and Democrat Vi Lyles are running for mayor of Charlotte.
Republican Kenny Smith and Democrat Vi Lyles are running for mayor of Charlotte. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Republican Kenny Smith has continued to outraise Democrat Vi Lyles, giving him a bigger war chest than any mayoral candidate in years and a near constant presence on the airwaves.

A new report filed Monday shows Smith has raised $188,000 since the end of August, bringing his total for the campaign to $510,000.

The last candidate to raise as much before an election was Democrat Anthony Foxx in 2011.

Lyles raised about $143,000 since August, giving her a little over $422,000, according to the campaign. Her actual report was unavailable.

Lyles reported $131,000 cash on hand as of last week. Smith had $48,000.

With money that he carried into the mayoral race, Smith has spent $538,000, much of it on TV advertising.

For example, records show he currently has a $47,000 contract with WBTV and a $79,000 contract with WSOC-TV. Lyles has yet to air any TV ads. It was unclear Monday how she’s spent her money.

The new reports reflect the last ones, which also showed Smith outraising Lyles as well as state Sen. Joel Ford. Only incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, had raised more.

Unlike Lyles, who defeated Roberts and Ford in a contested primary, Smith did not have a competitive primary.

Smith’s report shows he spent $347,000 with Victory Enterprises, a media and consulting firm based in Davenport, Iowa.

Smith’s top consultant, Steve Michael, is a vice president of Victory Enterprises. Mark Knoop, a Republican strategist, also works for Victory Enterprises and heads an independent expenditure group called Forward Charlotte.

Records show that Forward Charlotte, a group of unidentified “concerned citizens,” has spent more than $16,000 so far on radio and digital ads attacking Lyles. Such groups are required to operate independently of a campaign.

Smith also has had help from The North Carolina Values Coalition, a conservative group that backed House Bill 2. Executive director Tami Fitzgerald has called it a “five-figure” buy to run digital ads and produce mailers.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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