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Thom Tillis touts working-class values in his first TV ad of US Senate general election

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis aired his first general election television ad Monday, touting working-class values he said he gained as a paper boy and short-order cook.

The spot, which shows Tillis in a diner discussing the jobs he had growing up, marks the campaign's foray into an advertising battle already fed by millions in spending by outside groups supporting both candidates. November's contest is among a handful of closely watched races that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Tillis' Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, has been running ads since June and has a significant fundraising advantage for the first half of this year.

The Tillis campaign would not say how much it spent on the 30-second ad airing in markets across the state. The campaign said it was part of a $2.7 million ad buy for August and October.

After listing a string of jobs he held as a teenager and his eventual career as an IBM executive, Tillis finishes the ad by saying: "The Senate could use more people who had to sweat for a living. And fewer of the politicians who made this mess." The ad doesn't mention Hagan by name.

An accompanying release said that as speaker of the state House, Tillis has helped working- and middle-class families and small businesses with "pro-growth and job-creating policies."

In response, Hagan's campaign repeated its assertion that Tillis has hurt the middle class through his approach to education funding. Democrats argue that Tillis helped pass state budgets that failed to provide adequate education funding. Republicans counter that education spending has increased every year since Tillis became speaker in 2011.

"Speaker Tillis is desperately hoping that North Carolinians will forget about his devastating, anti-middle class record in Raleigh," Hagan spokesman Chris Hayden said in a statement.

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