YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A once-booming Franklin County manufacturing plant that closed nearly 15 years ago has become part of the race for a seat in the North Carolina Senate.

Republican businessman E.C. Sykes is running against Democrat Mary Wills Bode in the race to represent Senate District 18, which includes northern Wake County and Granville County.

A series of mailed advertisements from the Democratic Party of North Carolina tries to make the connection between Sykes and the 2007 decision to close the Flextronics plant that at the time was the county’s largest private employer.

The mailer says Sykes was “an executive at Flextronics when they shut down the Franklin County manufacturing plant and laid off 600 North Carolinians without explanation.”

It also says the company “outsourced North Carolina jobs for cheaper labor in China and Mexico, and Sykes left town to make even more money in Mexico.”

That mailer is tamer than one sent by Majority Rising NC, which explicitly said “Sykes shuttered the plant.”

It’s technically true that Sykes was an executive with the company in 2007 when the decision to close the plant was made.

But based on what his role with the company was at the time, it was highly unlikely he would have been in a position to affect that decision, one way or the other.

According to Sykes’ resume on LinkedIn — which is cited in the footnotes in the NCDP mailer — he spent four years as the general manager of the Youngsville plant after Singapore-based Flextronics bought his Circuit Board Assembly company in 1999.

He left the Triangle in 2003 when he was promoted to run Flextronics’ operation in Guadalajara, Mexico.

He held that position for two years before he moved back to the U.S. and in 2006 took a global marketing position at the company’s administrative Silicon Valley headquarters.

Flextronics in 2007 bought competing company Solectron — which already had two plants in central North Carolina — and opted to close the facility in Youngsville when it consolidated operations. The facility is now an Eaton factory.

When asked directly by CBS 17 News if he had anything to do with the decision to close the plant, Sykes responded: “No, I didn’t.”

“I was in San Jose, California, working on some totally different projects,” Sykes said. “And it was regrettable. I have a lot of great friends (who) are there, but I had nothing to do with it.”

Along those same lines, Sykes also said he wasn’t involved in any decisions to move jobs to China and Mexico.

“It’s the same thing, right?” Sykes said. “One, I had nothing to do with it, and two, that’s during a period of great recession. If you remember those times, everybody was struggling — or, particularly, manufacturing struggled.”

North Carolina Democratic Party spokeswoman Julia Walker said in a statement that Flextronics “has had a long and tumultuous history in North Carolina, and it would be remiss to ignore the fact that a large part of that history involved E.C. Sykes.

“Sykes may not have shuttered the plant himself, but as a North Carolinian, he should be ashamed of the impact that the company he was proudly an executive of for over 14 years had a part in crippling Franklin County,” she continued. “His current comments make it clear that he still doesn’t take a shred of responsibility for the role that Flextronics played in harming the working families of the district he’s running to represent.”