Recent reports have suggested that a GOP-affiliated super PAC, Faith and Power, is placing deceptive advertising in North Carolina to try to "trick" Democrats into supporting state Sen. Erica Smith over DSCC-backed veteran and former legislator Cal Cunningham in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. Thom Tillis. Both candidates are fairly mainstream Democrats, but Smith is widely considered to be a less serious challenger due to her lack of fundraising and her shared policy ideas with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
On Monday, Politico reported that Democrats are speaking out against this maneuvering.
"It's so brazen and obvious … They recognize that Cunningham is a strong candidate, and they're worried about holding onto that seat," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
"You want your strongest candidate. And if she’s not the strongest candidate, yes, it makes it much tougher," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). "There's just too much money in politics, and they spend it on trying to get the weakest candidate to run against [Tillis]."
Even Smith herself has decried this stealth campaign, putting out a campaign statement reading: "To those pondering the rumor that Republicans are supporting me because Thom Tillis thinks he has a better chance of beating me in the General, I have just one question: when was the last time Thom Tillis was right about anything? Senator Tillis has spent his tenure in DC suppressing voices he doesn't agree with and representing the interests of the Trump Administration over the working families of North Carolina. If this is an attempt to undermine the voices of voters, they are more out of touch than we even knew."
Tillis' seat is widely considered critical for Democrats to retake the Senate in 2020.