People connected to Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley are complaining to the national press that Democrat allies are not stepping up to the plate and spending outside money to lift her candidacy.
But is Beasley playing possum?
According to Dictionary.com, to play possum is to:
To pretend to be dead,
atrick used by opossums to defend themselves from predators: By extension, it also means “to pretend to be asleep,or to lie low.
So, is Cheri Beasley being hung out to dry by national Democrats and left-leaning allies? Or, as the Woodshed has argued, do Democrats have plenty of money?
The headline makes the Beasley case in the most recent article from ABC News:
“NC Democrats grumble over national party investment in Senate race.”
Some North Carolina Democrats are growing increasingly piqued about what they say is insufficient support from the national party for Senate nominee Cheri Beasley, who appears to be getting caught in a midterm map crunch.
This is the second such article I have seen. From experience, I can promise you this article is planted directly by people connected to the Beasley campaign.
The article states:
Democratic operatives and donors told ABC News they are bullish on their chances in the Tarheel State race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr — and, the Democrats say, Beasley, a Black woman who served as state Supreme Court chief justice, is as strong a candidate as the party can put forth against Rep. Ted Budd, the GOP nominee.
Instead, operatives are seeing spending go to other purple states but not to North Carolina.
The investment is incongruous. It’s not necessarily that there’s none of it, it’s just that it’s not keeping pace with — A, what is needed to win in North Carolina; and B, what is being given elsewhere across the country,” one Democratic strategist who’s worked closely with campaigns in the state told ABC News.
Democrats in North Carolina say they’re getting short-changed by the national party, though top operatives in Washington insist they support Beasley, and that the money will be there for her as November nears.
Still, there is plenty of good news for Beasley. Polling shows a close race. A mid-June WRAL-TV
The RealClearPolitics average of polls has Budd with a 3.8% lead.
On July 19, Spectrum News reported:
Almost $41 million has poured into North Carolina’s Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd. That number includes money raised by the campaigns and outside money being spent on the race.
Over the last quarter, Beasley raised $7.4 million, and Budd brought in $2.1 million, according to the campaign’s latest campaign finance filings.
As noted by the Charlotte Observer:
The amount is a record for second-quarter fundraising for North Carolina U.S. Senate candidates, Beasley’s campaign said. Her $7.42 million would beat a previous second-quarter record set by Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham in 2020.
A fact in modern-day politics is that the big, high-profile campaigns outside spending or “independent expenditures” are the primary source of campaign advertising. The “outside” spending totals will dwarf what Beasley and Budd directly spend.
However, a check of ad bookings and reservations shows national Democrats have reserved very little airtime going into the fall.
Nationally, Democrats are on defense as they seek to at least retain control of the evenly divided Senate via the tie-breaking vote of the vice-president. Operatives in North Carolina told ABC News that the party might be prioritizing Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because of more recent success there.
Senate Majority PAC (SMP), Senate Democrats’ leading super PAC, has spent $2.1 million in ads in North Carolina. However, according to ABC News, its only reservation after August was a $700,000 ad expenditure in the Charlotte market.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and (GOP) Senate Leadership have secured $34 million in ads for the final three months of the campaign.
It is important to note that outside spending efforts do not need to have already booked their advertising time. Unlike 2020, a presidential year with a governor’s race, and a U.S. Senate race, prime advertising slots are still widely available.
So here is what the Woodshed can say:
- The Beasley campaign is clearly worried as a non-incumbent that national party resources will not be sufficient.
- It is not an accident that these planted stories make an issue of Beasley’s race and gender. Once again, from ABC News:
Operatives on the ground say Beasley –- one of two Black women nominated in any Democratic Senate primary this year and the first Black woman to win a major party’s Senate nomination in North Carolina –- also offers a prime opportunity for the national party to put its money where its mouth is after promising to prioritize Black women, who are often its most reliable voters.
- Camp Beasley is clearly in an all-out pressure campaign for national D
emocratsand aligned groups to step up and spend in the race.
- Sources close to Budd tell the Woodshed that they don’t buy it. They expect a well-funded Democratic effort and a tight race to the end. They are convinced if Beasley loses, it won’t be because there were not enough TV ads running on her behalf. Even though 2022 looks to be a red-leaning year, there are no automatics in U.S. Senate races in North Carolina.
- Three prominent GOP and one Democrat operatives tell the Woodshed they also expect national Democrats to pour money into North Carolina in the U.S. Senate race and for both State Supreme Court races.
- 2010 was the last time a national party and allied groups effectively abandoned a North Carolina Senate candidate. The Democrats hung Secretary of State Elaine Marshall out to dry during a very tough year for Democrats. While Marshall lost by double digits, 55-43%, national Democrats never even wanted Marshall. They wanted Cal Cunningham, the infamous Democratic U.S. Senate nominee in 2020 that fumbled away a winnable race after an extramarital affair emerged. After failing to garner above 40% of the vote in the May 4 primary election, Marshall had to face Cunningham. Only after Cunningham lost a summer run-off and the national Democrats were stuck with a broke candidate in a lousy year, did national Democrats abandon her. Beasley was the national Democrats’ preferred candidate from day one.
- Since 2010, the three U.S. Senate races won by Republicans Thom Tillis (2014), Richard Burr (2016), and Thom Tillis (2020) were decided by 1.56%, 5.69%, and 1.74%, respectively.
Beasley’s camp can’t be faulted for being concerned, so we can’t say she is totally “playing possum.” Democrats have in the past reserved more outside television spending by now. However, there is still time. Democrat activists are riding a wave of renewed energy after President Biden signed another massive tax and spending bill, sky-high gas prices have dropped some, and the FBI raided Donald Trump’s home. If that renewed optimism translates into a few better creditable polls for Beasley, there will be plenty of money for her to win.