SHOCKER: Star of Kay Hagan Attack Ad Is a Democratic Activist

September 3, 2014

Senator Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) has unveiled a new ad attacking her Republican opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, for cutting textbook funding in the state budget, which included significant pay increases for teachers.

The ad features a woman named Anna Stearns, from Black Mountain, N.C., who offers the following incomprehensible lament: "Under Thom Tillis's leadership, they've cut textbook funding so much that I can't help my son with his homework."

What is she even talking about? That sentence is a total non sequitur. But whatever, the important thing to understand is that Anna is an independent voice speaking to the struggles of North Carolina’s middle class.

Or maybe not so independent, after all. According to an online bio, Stearns "is active with her local Democratic Party and was elected in 2013 to serve as Secretary of both the Women's Caucus of the Young Democrats of North Carolina and as Secretary of the Buncombe County Chapter."

In fairness to Hagan, it was probably hard to find a Democratic supporter who has even heard of her. This passage from a recent Washington Post report suggests as much:

Antipathy toward the GOP-led state government has charged Hagan’s campaign with a boost of passion that is especially important for a relatively low-profile senator. Even many stalwart Democratic voters react quizzically when asked their opinions of her.

"I think she’s been supportive of environmental issues," ventured Durham resident Lindsay Perry, 32, as she lunched with her 9-month-old son outside a downtown bakery. "The thing is, I’m a reasonably educated and interested citizen, but I still . . . " She trailed off, stumped.

Hagan and Tillis are neck-and-neck in a race many are rating as a toss up.