Rep.-elect Dan Bishop of North Carolina raised a fraction of what his Democratic opponent received in the lead-up to Tuesday’s special election, but large sums of outside spending helped push the Republican over the edge to victory.
Bishop’s campaign raised $1.95 million, less than half of Democrat Dan McCready’s $4.95 million fundraising haul, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records covering up to Aug. 21, the latest available data.
The race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, which was described as a potential 2020 bellwether, was flooded with nearly $11 million in outside spending that favored Bishop by a factor of 2-to-1, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Bishop defeated McCready with 50.7% of the vote compared with the Democrat’s 48.7%.
“What this amount of money indicates is how much both parties are willing to truly invest in elections that may not have a governing consequence but have more strategy and symbolism,” political scientist Michael Bitzer said, according to the Observer.
The top outside spender in the race was the National Republican Congressional Committee (RNCC), which dumped $3.1 million into ads attacking McCready. The group’s counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), spent $1.2 million attacking Bishop.
Other major outside spenders in the race were the House Republican-tied Congressional Leadership Fund and Club for Growth Action, “super” political action committees that spent $2.3 million and $1 million, respectively, attacking McCready.
But perhaps most critical to Bishop’s victory was his election-eve rally with President Donald Trump.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2019
DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said Tuesday that Trump’s visit to the district Monday evening played a factor in Bishop’s victory.
“We fell an inch short tonight, but it took more than $6 million in outside Republican spending and a last-minute Trump rally,” Bustos said in a statement.
The large sums of outside money made the race one of the most expensive congressional special elections in U.S. history, coming second only to the $27 million spent in 2017’s special election in Georgia that resulted in a victory for Republican Karen Handel over Democrat Jon Ossoff.
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