- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina’s airwaves keep getting clogged with new U.S. Senate campaign ads even as Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis laid low Monday at the start of the final full work week in their tight race.

While neither held announced public events, Hagan released a radio ad Monday reminding potential voters about Tillis’ education record, keeping to her arguments that under his watch as state House speaker, the Legislature cut spending to the public schools.

The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee is promoting a new television commercial that uses Hagan’s spoken own words from her 2008 campaign with Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in an attempt to turn the tables on her own re-election bid.

The commercial is part of the additional $6 million or so the group announced earlier this month that it planned to spend until Election Day. More than $92 million has been spent by the two campaigns and outside groups, making it the nation’s most expensive general election race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Another group called Our America PAC said it would begin running an anti-Hagan commercial Tuesday in Raleigh and Charlotte designed to address black voters. A PAC spokeswoman said less than $100,000 would be spent on the ad, which featured a black Republican, Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory.

Both Tillis and Hagan announced campaign stops Tuesday. Tillis planned to travel with Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - first with McCain to a Salisbury restaurant and later joined by Graham in Charlotte. Both Senate Armed Services Committee members have campaigned with Tillis separately this fall.

Hagan planned an event Tuesday morning at an Asheville restaurant.

Early in-person voting began last Thursday in all 100 counties, and more than 297,000 people have cast ballots through Sunday, according to the State Board of Elections. More than 909,000 people cast in-person ballots during the last midterm general election in 2010, when the period lasted 2½ weeks. The legislature reduced the early-voting period by one week in 2013. Early voting continues through Saturday.

Almost 50 percent of the people who’ve cast in-person ballots through Sunday were registered Democrats, who comprise 42 percent of the entire electorate, board data show.

Democrats historically have used early voting disproportionately to their registration totals.

Republicans comprised 30 percent of the early-vote total, which is essentially in line with their portion of the electorate. Unaffiliated voters are 27 percent of the electorate but have cast 20 percent of the early votes.

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