In two new attack ads released by incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Jones goes after his opponent, lobbyist Scott Dacey, for giving hundreds of thousands to support "the builders of the swamp" — naming House Speaker Paul Ryan and others in the GOP establishment specifically.

"Dacey says he's on the Trump Train, but he's just jumped on the bandwagon hoping to use the president to fool voters. The fact is Dacey has never given a dime to Donald Trump, but he's given over 170,000 to help the builders of the swamp."

Why it matters: It's extremely strange for a Republican incumbent to target a leader of his own party to gain an edge so early in the midterm election cycle (the North Carolina primary isn't until May). The move could also open the door for other members to follow suit.

Details of the radio ads:

  • The first ad attacks Dacey for donating to "the politicians who built the swamp President Trump is trying to drain" — naming Speaker Ryan, former Speaker John Bohener (R), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — but never giving money to Donald Trump.
  • The second ad focuses on how Dacey bragged on his Facebook page about being in Ryan's private Suite at the RNC, but didn't mention Trump once until June 2017.

What they're saying:

  • "Ryan is definitely considered establishment, and if you look at the numbers that President Trump won in this area, its clear that they don't support the swamp," Doug Raymond, strategist for Walter Jones' campaign, told Axios.
  • "I find the ads to be very odd," a former state GOP official familiar with the campaign told Axios. "Normally its Republicans using [Nancy] Pelosi, but in this sense it's Ryan ... I've just never seen this before." The official added that he thinks Jones' tactics could signal a change in strategy, and said he wouldn't be surprised if others beginning running similar ads.

Keep in mind: Despite Jones grouping Ryan into a "builder of the swamp" he:

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