RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — When it comes to spending money on elections, how often do Republicans give money to Democrats and vice versa — and should it matter?
One new campaign ad attacks GOP Congressional candidate Kelly Daughtry for doing that in a previous election cycle.
Daughtry, a Johnston County lawyer, is running in the Republican primary to represent North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District.
THE CLAIM: The narrator in the ad from Club for Growth Action says Daughtry “supported a Democrat for the North Carolina Supreme Court when Republicans were fighting to take back the court.”
THE FACTS: The ad cites a report in the conservative Carolina Journal written by Dallas Woodhouse, the former executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party.
It calls out Daughtry for donating a total of $1,250 to the campaign for Mark Davis, a Democrat running for a spot on the state Supreme Court. Davis lost his race in 2020 to Republican Tamara Barringer.
Club for Growth has endorsed Daughtry’s opponent, political newcomer Bo Hines, and so has former President Donald Trump. PAC spokesman Joe Kildea did not respond to a request by CBS 17 News to discuss the ad.
We also reached out to Daughtry’s campaign for comment, but spokesman Luke Stancil declined an interview request.
He did say in a statement that Daughtry and her family “are proud to have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the conservative moment and Republican Party in North Carolina over the decades.”
Indeed, a search of campaign finance tracking website OpenSecrets.org turns up $26,270 in donations made by Daughtry herself from 1997-2021. The vast majority of them — 15, totaling $23,450 — went to Republicans.
The other eight went to Democrats, with those donations adding up to $2,820 and including the $1,250 in contributions to the Davis committee that were referenced in the ad.
“I think it’s an inbounds comment,” said Pope “Mac” McCorkle, a professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a veteran political consultant.
But how common is it for Republicans to donate to Democrats and vice versa?
McCorkle says it’s a lot less common now in this hyperpolarized time.
“In past days, especially in the case of judges and judicial politics, which is the head has been cordoned off from the regular polarized politics, I think you would have seen more of this,” he said.
McCorkle says it could be a problem that Daughtry also gave $250 to Democrat Cheri Beasley’s campaign in June 2021 — two months after she entered the race for a U.S. Senate seat. Daughtry previously gave $200 to Beasley in May 2014.
“In a closed primary situation where only Republicans can vote, this could be especially devastating,” McCorkle said, while adding that on the other hand “perhaps some people will see this as a sign of independence.”
He says that’s just one of several ways this could be interpreted.
“The interesting thing is, though, that she’s being attacked,” he said. “So you also may want to say, ‘Well, if Daughtry just had no chance of winning, then they wouldn’t have gone out of their way, the Hines-connected people, to attack. So maybe his is trying to stop some kind of a little bit of a surge or a little bit of a move upward by Daughtry.”
Of course, there’s one major Republican who has given to Democrats — Donald Trump, the former president who’s still the face of the party.
“Trump's answer, of course, was, ‘I was just being a strategic businessman,’ and Trump is someone who wants to be generous,” McCorkle said.