GOP, Democrats Can Double Money in North Carolina Senate Race
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Republican and Democratic parties are free to double their contributions in the North Carolina Senate race, after the Federal Election Commission deadlocked on the issue today.
However, the parties would do so at their own risk, possibly inviting a complaint from the other side that double donations violate the law. If that happened, the FEC would have to rule on the same issue again.
The North Carolina election ballot has an unusual twist: there are two Senate elections listed, one to fill out the two-month remainder of the late Sen. John East’s term and the other for a full six-year term beginning Jan. 3.
Thus, voters must twice cast their ballots for former Democratic Gov. Terry Sanford or Republican Sen. Jim Broyhill, who was appointed to the vacancy following East’s death last summer.
The FEC had been asked to decide whether spending could be doubled since there are two elections on the same day. The commission split along party lines, voting 3-3 against a motion by Republican Commissioner Thomas Josefiak that would have allowed doubling the party expenditure limits. The three Democratic commissioners voted against the motion, and the three Republicans in favor.
Since it takes a four-vote majority for action, the tie vote means the parties are free to spend double if they so choose, said FEC spokesman Fred Eiland.
Under federal law the national senatorial campaign committees for each party could spend $203,530 on the race and state parties could spend an equal amount. The limit for each state is determined according to a formula based on population. A separate $17,500 contribution is also permitted directly to the candidates’ campaign.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose bank account far outstrips that of its Democratic counterpart, could easily double its contribution to Broyhill if it chooses to do so.
NRSC legal counsel Jim Wholey interpreted the split vote as favorable, saying it would allow the Republicans to spend ″what we believe our legal maximum would be.″ However, he said, no decision has been made on whether the committee will double its money to Broyhill.
Eiland said that if either committee doubles its spending ″they take a chance″ that the other committee would file a complaint with the FEC alleging a violation of the law. If the FEC deadlocks again, the issue could go to court.
At an earlier session, the FEC had agreed that individual and political action committee contributions could be doubled in the North Carolina Senate race.