A group funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg has announced a $4.5 million advertising push to get Democrats elected to less prominent offices in the battleground states of Arizona and North Carolina.
The Beyond Carbon Victory Fund will spend $2.5 million on ads in support of Yvonne Lewis Holley for lieutenant governor of North Carolina against Republican candidate Mark Robinson.
Another $17,000 will go to radio ads for North Carolina State Senator Kirk deViere.
The fund will spend the rest of the money on ads supporting Anna Tovar and Bill Mundell for the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s energy utilities, among other duties.
“Our Beyond Carbon Victory Fund campaign aims to elect champions of climate action all over the country—at all levels of government where an impact can be made,” Bloomberg said in an Oct. 14 release.
“These races may not make headline news, but I’m glad to support candidates in North Carolina and Arizona who will be leaders on climate action and the urgent work of moving our country more quickly to a 100 percent clean energy economy.”
The ad buy is overwhelming for such low-profile races. The current North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, Republican Dan Forest, spent about $1.4 million on his 2016 campaign, according to BallotPedia. His challenger only spent some $500,000.
In the Arizona Corporate Commissioner race, Tovar has so far spent under $160,000, based on her 3rd quarter filings (pdf). Mundell has spent a bit over $300,000 (pdf). The third Democrat in the race, Shea Stanfield, spent less than $300,000 (pdf). The three Republicans in the race, Eric Sloan, James O’Connor, and incumbent Lea Marquez Peterson, have all together spent about $470,000 (pdf, pdf, pdf).
Bloomberg’s spending is part of his $500 million Beyond Carbon initiative to back candidates who subscribe to his vision of reducing man-made carbon emissions.
U.S. emissions have dropped by about 12 percent since 2005, according to the Rhodium Group think tank, in major part due to transition from coal to natural gas made cheaper by advances in fracking.
However, Bloomberg’s group indicated opposition to this transition.
“Winning a climate majority on the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is critical to ensuring Arizona can move away from dependence on coal and transition toward renewable energy instead of increasing its reliance on gas,” its release said.
Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York City, already spent some $500 million on his unsuccessful 2020 presidential run. He dropped out in March after he only won the territory of American Samoa on Super Tuesday. He then endorsed Biden.
In September, Bloomberg pledged $100 million to help Biden in Florida, traditionally among the most crucial battleground states in presidential races.