Democrat Dan McCready outraised Republican Dan Bishop by more than 2 to 1 in the closing weeks of his losing campaign in North Carolina’s special 9th District congressional election, new campaign finance reports show.
But outside groups supported Bishop by almost 2 to 1 in an election that drew more outside money than all but one congressional race in U.S. history.
Bishop beat McCready by 2 points in the Sept. 10 special election. In 2016 Donald Trump had carried the district by almost 12 points, which McCready noted in an op-ed in Monday’s New York Times.
“We lost, but we showed how Democrats can win nationwide in 2020,” he wrote.
Reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission show McCready raised $2.4 million from Aug. 22 through the end of September. Bishop raised $940,000 during that period. Most of the contributions for both came in the weeks leading up to the election.
All together, McCready’s campaign raised $7.8 million to Bishop’s $2.8 million.
In addition, outside groups spent $11 million on the race. That eclipsed the nearly $9 million spent in Florida’s 13th District in 2014 though it’s far behind the record-shattering $27 million spent in Georgia’s nationally watched 2017 House race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The biggest outside spenders in the NC9 race were the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund. Together they spent $5.5 million on Bishop’s behalf, according to CRP.
Loans of $250,000 that each candidates made to his campaign remain unpaid, reports show.
In the Times, McCready laid out reasons he believes made the election close.
He said by telling his own story, he “grounded our campaign in values” and built trust with voters. He said he also avoided “the daily drama in Washington” and focused on issues such as health care.
He said was able to campaign for incremental changes to the Affordable Care Act even though some Democrats wanted more.
“Some activists wished I favored a stronger government hand in my health care proposal,” he wrote. “But once they got to know me, they poured their hearts into our race because they knew my values and saw that we had the same goal of affordable and quality health care for every American. This taught me how important it is to avoid policy purity tests and focus on the goals we all share.”
A Bishop spokeswoman declined to comment.