RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson takes aim at former Gov. Pat McCrory in a new ad that began running statewide Wednesday, following Robinson’s endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s open U.S. Senate seat.

A spokesman for Club for Growth Action says the group is spending about $1.5 million to run the ad for the next two weeks, just as in-person early voting is set to begin on April 28.

“I voted for Pat McCrory in the past but not this time. Pat’s a nice guy, but he’s no conservative,” Robinson says in the ad. “So, I’m throwing my weight, and that’s a lot of weight, behind the principled, conservative choice for U.S. Senate, my friend Ted Budd.”

Earlier this month, Robinson announced his endorsement of Budd at a rally featuring former President Donald Trump.

Recent polling has shown Budd with a double-digit lead over McCrory, with other candidates trailing significantly. A poll CBS17 released earlier this month in partnership with the Hill and Emerson College found Budd with 38 percent support compared to 22 percent for McCrory among Republican primary voters.

In an interview, McCrory called the ad “deceitful,” particularly the claim Robinson makes about the former governor putting “liberals in charge of choosing state textbooks.”

McCrory noted that under state law the governor appoints people to the state’s textbook commission upon the recommendation of the superintendent of public instruction. At the time, the superintendent was June Atkinson, a Democrat.

“That gives the impression that I selected these people, which is a total fabrication and a total lie. And, I’ve been on the record totally against (critical race theory),” McCrory said.

Spokespersons for Robinson did not respond to our requests for an interview about the ad.

Club for Growth has committed to spending at least $14 million in the primary to try to help Budd win. Budd has the backing of former President Donald Trump, and Club for Growth is working to get other candidates elected who Trump endorsed.

“The ads are a total lie. They are deceitful and they’re shameful. And anyone who is willing to get behind a group that lies like that to get elected will lie once they are elected,” McCrory said. “That’s what Ted Budd is doing. He’s trying to lie his way and buy his way into a U.S. Senate seat.”

A recent poll released by the conservative John Locke Foundation found Robinson has the highest approval rating among Republican primary voters of any Republican the pollsters measured. About 53 percent of GOP primary voters said they view him favorably compared to just 6 percent who view him unfavorably.

“You find that nowhere else. You could find no better person for an endorsement in North Carolina for a Republican primary than Mark Robinson,” said Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst at the foundation.

Kokai also described Robinson’s claim that McCrory is not a conservative as the “death knell for someone trying to run in the primary of a party that describes itself as conservative.”