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Republican Governors Association targets Easley

Any morning now, campaign strategists for [North Carolina] Gov. Mike Easley expect to wake to a television commercial bashing Easley, courtesy of a national Republican group that has targeted the N.C. governor's mansion as a top priority.

Republicans won't pick their nominee to challenge Easley, a Democrat, until the primary election in July. But the Republican Governors Association can step in to pinch-hit at any time.

The newly restructured organization packs a fat bank account and is free of the fund-raising restrictions imposed on campaigns. ...

The RGA's enhanced clout extends well beyond the Tar Heel State. The GOP operation is the biggest fund-raiser among a new crop of political advocacy groups called 527s because of their tax-exempt designation.

Those organizations are expected to fill television screens across the country this year with advertising, technically separate from, but clearly on behalf of candidates from both parties. In fact, the groups drawing the most attention right now are Democratic, such as MoveOn.org's commercials attacking President Bush on cable networks. -- Well-financed GOP group targets Easley (Charlotte Observer)