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The Daily Tar Heel

Ads Aim to Increase Support for State Lottery

Taking a cue from S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges' 1998 gubernatorial campaign, the N.C. Lottery for Education Coalition is running television advertisements featuring "Bubba," a South Carolina convenience store clerk.

The ads, which started Aug. 25 in the Greenville and New Bern viewing areas, address the argument that North Carolina is losing potential revenue because people are crossing state borders to buy lottery tickets.

"Here in South Carolina, we just luuve your good ol' North Carolina Legislature," Bubba says in the ads.

The purpose of the ads is to pressure N.C. legislators to place a lottery referendum on the November ballot, said coalition spokesman Gardner Payne.

He said recent surveys show that the majority of state residents support a lottery but that organizations opposed to it use money to silence the voice of the people.

"We're going to be the voice of the 70 percent of people that support the lottery," Payne said.

He added that the coalition is strongly considering expanding to new markets to put pressure on members of the N.C. General Assembly to discuss lottery.

"If the legislature continues to ignore this vote, we're prepared to go statewide," he said.

Chuck Neely, chairman of Citizens United Against the Lottery, said he thinks the ads are indicative of the state of the coalition.

"I think it is a sign of desperation by the pro-lottery campaign," he said.

Danny Lineberry, press secretary for House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, said Black has stated that the lottery will be addressed before the end of session.

But Neely said he thinks the lottery issue should be decided in the legislature, not in a referendum.

"As best as I can tell, members of the General Assembly are not influenced by the ads," he said.

Payne said the coalition adopted the ad because of its success in South Carolina. Both advertisements feature the same man playing Bubba and focus on the loss of revenue when residents of a state cross the border to buy lottery tickets.

In the South Carolina ad, Bubba portrayed a Georgia clerk.

Payne emphasized that the strength of the ads can be seen in the outcome of the S.C. gubernatorial race, where the anti-lottery candidate lost the general election.

"(Bubba) was extremely effective in South Carolina," he said. "To have that kind of conservative turnout and have the governor lose says a lot about the Bubba ad."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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