North Carolina state Sen. Erica Smith and US Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Smith is a Democrat running in a primary to take on Tillis, a Republican, in the general election.
CNN  — 

The first significant ad buy for state Sen. Erica Smith, a Democratic candidate for US Senate in North Carolina, appears to be backed by Republicans.

Faith and Power, a new political action committee with ties to Republicans, formally launched on January 29 and spent more than $1.9 million to influence the Democratic primary, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission and the Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.

The television and radio ads aims to boost Smith over Cal Cunningham, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and has raised significantly more money.

“Who’s the Democrat for US Senate endorsed by progressives and unions? Erica Smith,” says the ad’s narrator. “Who’s got the courage to vote for ‘Medicare for All’? Erica Smith. The number one supporter of the Green New Deal? Erica Smith again.”

“Erica Smith is one of us – a high school educator, engineer, state senator and ordained minister,” adds the narrator. “Vote Democrat Erica Smith for US Senate, the only proven progressive.”

CNN has reached out to the Smith campaign for comment.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, who may prefer to run against Smith, who is more liberal than Cunningham. Her campaign had on hand less than $100,000 at the end of 2019. Cunningham’s campaign, meanwhile, had more than $1.7 million.

The media buyer, Neylan and Partners, has worked on behalf of Republican campaigns before, including a super PAC supporting Carly Fiorina’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as Americans for Tax Reform. Neylan and Partners did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment.

The bulk of the ad buy, costing about $1.5 million, is for broadcast TV, and will play from Thursday to February 19 in major media markets in the state, including Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh and Greensboro.

This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.