(CNN) - The leading outside group supporting Democrats in this year's battle for control of the Senate says it's putting big bucks behind a new ad that attacks the GOP challenger in North Carolina, home to one of the most crucial races.
CNN has learned that the Senate Majority PAC will launch a new television commercial Thursday that slams North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis over state education cuts. He's the Republican Senate nominee who's challenging first term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. If the GOP can flip the seat in North Carolina and five others, without losing any ground, they will win control of the Senate in November's midterm elections.
"When it comes to education, Thom Tillis is gambling with our future. As Speaker, he cut nearly $500 million from education, eliminating 9,000 teaching positions, and overcrowding classrooms. Now he promises more lottery money for education. We've heard that broken promise before. Meanwhile Tillis gives tax breaks for yacht and private jet owners," says the narrator in the spot. "Thom Tillis, for wealthy backers, tax breaks. For North Carolina families, a bad gamble."
Senate Majority PAC tells CNN that it will spend $800,000 to run the ad statewide over the next ten days.
The group, along with Patriot Majority, an allied organization, have spent over $10 million in the North Carolina Senate race so far this cycle. Pro-Republican outside groups, led by Americans for Prosperity, have also been spending millions to bombard the state with ads. AFP alone has shelled out more than $8 million to run spots.
Education is one of the leading issues in the North Carolina Senate contest. The Tillis campaign's criticized Hagan for education cuts she voted for as a state senator last decade.
In responding to the new Senate Majority PAC commercial, the Tillis campaign tied Hagan to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"Harry Reid and liberal special interest groups clearly have their fingers firmly planted on the panic button. Since Kay Hagan can’t run on her record of supporting Obama 95 percent of the time, her liberal allies are running yet another shamefully false attack ad that contains outright lies already debunked by national fact-checkers. Thom Tillis has a proven record of balancing budgets, giving teachers historic pay raises, and creating opportunities for North Carolina middle-class families," said the Tillis campaign, in a statement.
The most recent polls in the race indicate Hagan and Tillis are all tied up. Tills received some high profile support earlier this week, as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney headlined a fundraiser for the candidate in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states like North Carolina.