Back in January, I wrote that Democrat Cheri Beasley could be the next senator from North Carolina. That race isn't getting the kind of attention we see going to other potentially "flippable" seats, but it does usually show up when pundits name the top ten senate races to watch.
Last month, Natalie Allison wrote that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (the one chaired by Sen. Rick Scott), had reserved $53 million in ads in top battleground states. It's interesting to note where they took their opening shots - Arizona and North Carolina. We're now learning how they plan to attack Beasley.
Television stations in North Carolina made the unusual decision on Friday to take down an attack ad against Cheri Beasley, a Democratic Senate candidate, after complaints that the ad falsely accused Ms. Beasley of freeing a man convicted on charges of possessing lewd images of children when she served as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The ad, made by the Republican Senate campaign arm, highlighted the case of “a child porn offender,” and it accused Ms. Beasley of having “voted to set him free.” A female narrator spoke ominously over images of a young girl and jail bars sliding open.
Here's the fact-check:
The case that led to removal of the North Carolina ad involved a man named James Howard Terrell Jr., who was convicted in 2016 of possessing lewd images of minors on a computer thumb drive.
An appeals court ruled that a detective had conducted an illegal search of the thumb drive, in violation of Mr. Terrell’s Fourth Amendment rights, and it sent the case back down to the trial court.
In 2019, the State Supreme Court, with Ms. Beasley in the majority, upheld that ruling. As of May 2020, Mr. Terrell was still in prison, according to court records.
Sound familiar? They're telling the same lies about Beasley that they told about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings - with a touch of "Willie Horton" thrown in for good measure. Kudos to the television stations in North Carolina for refusing to air the lies.
But it's also interesting to note that the NRSC is going after Beasley with this kind of attack right out of the gate. I doubt they'd be wasting their money if they didn't think she had a chance of flipping this seat. I previously noted that North Carolina is one of those southern states that is beginning to swing.
In 2008, Barack Obama won North Carolina. He went on to lose to Mitt Romney by a narrow margin in 2012. Donald Trump won the state in both 2016 and 2020, just as the same voters chose a Democrat, Roy Cooper, to be their governor. Democrat Cal Cunningham lost the 2020 Senate election to Republican incumbent Thom Tillis by less than 2% after news broke that Cunningham had an extramarital affair.
According to the 2020 census, North Carolina is the fourth fastest growing state in the country, behind only Texas, Arizona, and Florida. While more than half of the state's (mostly rural) counties lost population, 78% of the growth occurred in the two largest metro areas (Raleigh and Wilmington). Virtually all of that growth was in the adult (voting age) population.
Pundits usually dismiss Beasley's chances by simply noting that North Carolina went for Trump in both 2016 and 2020. But take a look at the recent history of presidential races in the state:
2000 - Bush won by 12.8%2004 - Bush won by 12.4%