An independent expenditure group, Alliance for North Carolina, funded primarily by donations through labor unions and the Democratic Governor's Association spent just under $4 million during the 2008 election cycle in support of Bev Perdue's candidacy for governor.
So add this into the $17.4 million Perdue's campaign raised, plus the $2.2 million the NEA spent on her behalf and you start to see one of the reason's Perdue was able to defeat McCrory.
Also of note, the consultant for Alliance for NC was Raleigh-based Nexus Strategies which is headed by former NCDP Executive Director Scott Falmlen. A member of Nexus Strategies recently left the organization to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff to Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.