Tillis is running for Senate. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
For several months, the Republican Senate primary in North Carolina has been a race for second place: state Speaker Thom Tillis, with his superior financial resources, is a shoo-in for first, while Dr. Greg Brannon and Pastor Mark Harris vied for second place to challenge Tillis in a runoff.
But, one week before the primary, many local operatives now expect Tillis will reach the 40 percent threshold on Tuesday to avoid a runoff later this summer with the second-place finisher.
The winner of the primary will face Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in one of the cycle’s marquee competitive contests. For Tillis, the stakes to avoid a runoff are high because it would force him to spend another two months running against a Republican opponent — instead of Hagan.
What’s more, the state’s General Assembly comes back into session on May 14, eight days after the primary. Tillis would have to balance his duties as speaker while still campaigning for the nomination.
But, many local Republicans now see that scenario as increasingly unlikely, arguing that Tillis will most likely win the primary outright.
“About two weeks ago, I would’ve said we would definitely see a primary runoff,” said Chad Adams, the director of Priorities NC, an advocacy group focused on promoting limited government, who is not aligned with any campaign. “But looking at the landscape now and how we’re shaping up, it looks like that gap is closing.” Full story