Super PAC seeks to boost N. Carolina Senate hopeful Eastman

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An independent political committee has quickly spent money on digital media, billboards and radio ads to back Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marjorie Eastman, a relative newcomer to the race.

Restore Common Sense Inc., which was created in November, as of this week has recorded $1.2 million in spending to support Eastman’s bid, according to committee filings with the Federal Election Commission. The group lists Wilmington pharmaceutical executive Fred Eshelman as its treasurer.

Restore Common Sense PAC, which is linked to the group, is identified in “takeover” ads promoting Eastman’s candidacy that first appeared Wednesday on the homepages of The News & Observer of Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer. Independent expenditure groups are barred from coordinating activities with candidates.

The ads highlight Eastman’s service in the military as a combat veteran. At the same time, they criticize “career politicians” who “abandoned common sense,” leading to an environment that’s brought “crippling inflation, massive new government spending” and “surging crime” to the country.

Eastman, who is from Cary, entered the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in October. Eastman is seeking the Republican nomination in the May primary against a field that already includes Rep. Ted Budd, former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-Rep. Mark Walker. Budd was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

FEC filings associated with Restore Common Sense Inc. hadn’t yet identified donors. Eshelman, a previous donor largely to Republican causes and candidates, is the founder and former CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development. He’s also given to the pharmacy school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is named for him.

Club for Growth Action, another outside PAC that’s endorsed Budd and criticized McCrory, has said it plans to spend $10 million in the race.