Rachel Hunt waged North Carolina’s most expensive General Assembly campaign in 2018 — tipping the scales at a cool $1.7 million in spending.
Two-thirds of the money came from the state Democratic Party, and their investment paid off. Hunt unseated Republican Rep. Bill Brawley by a mere 68 votes.
While $1.7 million doesn’t sound like a lot in the world of politics, keep in mind that this district has under 60,000 registered voters. Hunt garnered just over 19,000 votes.
That’s a staggering $88.85 per vote.
For comparison, Gov. Roy Cooper spent just over $9 per vote in 2016.
Where’d all that money go?
It’s actually pretty easy to explain: More than three quarters went to television ads.
That’s what Longleaf Politics found in an analysis of Rachel Hunt’s campaign committee expenditure reports. We found $1.5 million of spending detailed with the State Board of Elections. The other $200,000 or so was likely transferred to other campaign committees.
Television ad spending
Nearly $1.1 million went into television advertising, exclusively run by Washington consulting firm Canal Media Partners. They’re known for buying TV time for Democratic candidates, and an affiliated company ran the TV ad program for Bernie Sanders in 2016.
One notable one focused on Hunt as a “PTA Mom.”
[Longleaf story: The best and worst N.C. campaign ads of 2018]
The digital ad spending went to Switchboard Communications, another DC firm that focuses on robocalls, text messaging and apparently Facebook advertising. Just under $18,000 went to six Facebook ads.
Interestingly, only a small amount went to payroll. Campaign manager Erik Myster earned just under $26,000 for the year working on the campaign. That was pretty much it for payroll.
The Hunt campaign still spent $10,000 on print campaigns, including $3,000 on yard signs. Much of the rest went to stationery, printing and postage for fundraising invitations. Not much was spent on direct mail.
The bulk of event spending — $20,000 — went to the Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary for a mid-August fundraiser.