Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Hagan Gets First Major GOP Challenger #NCSEN

North Carolina state Speaker Thom Tillis announced Friday he will challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

The Republican has long been expected to take on the first-term senator, who is among the most vulnerable incumbents facing re-election next year. He’s the first major challenger to Hagan, though other Republicans are eyeing the race.

“Friends, I have decided to run for the US Senate against Kay Hagan in 2014,” Tillis wrote in a morning tweet. “I hope to earn your support.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Tillis said defeating Hagan would help Republicans win the Senate majority and “turn the country in the right direction.” He plans to officially enter the race next week.

Other Republicans considering a bid include former Ambassador Jim Cain, state Senate President Phil Berger, Rep. Virginia Foxx, former Charlotte City Councilman Lynn Wheeler and the Rev. Mark Harris. Tea party activist Greg Brannon and two other Republicans are already in the race.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Toss-up/Tilt Democrat.

  • Matt Appleman

    Thom Tillis is a pretty good candidate. He represents the suburbs of Charolotte, Speaker of the HOR, and a successful businessman.

  • Raphael Semmes

    Tillis a ”major challenger”???? He runs worse in the polls than the other announced candidate Dr. Greg Brannon, a Tea Partier. Tillis also runs 6th among all the names that are out there as prospective challengers to Hagan, and that is in spite of Tillis’ name recognition and tons of self promotion, often at taxpayer expense. Polling data shows Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is the top pick of NC Republicans to take on Hagan. Tillis first got into politics when he was recruited and funded by the corrupt Jim Black / Richard Morgan machine to run against a sitting conservative legislator in the GOP primary because that legislator was really hammering Black and Morgan. Black later went to federal prison for his political corruption. One prospective challenger to watch is former US Ambassador and former GOP National Committeeman Jim Cain, a protégé of former Senator Jesse Helms. In spite of Cain’s much lower name recognition and very recent expression of interest in the race, he is only 2 points behind Tillis in the polls.

  • INTJ

    Lynn Wheeler was the frontwoman behind the Charlotte arena, who famously vowed to abide by the results of the public referendum, which trounced the $300 million giveaway plan 57%-43%, then voted to build it anyway, and lost her seat on the city council as a result. If she thinks those voters have forgotten her, she may be in for a surprise.

  • Raphael Semmes

    Tillis has far too many skeletons in his closet and poor positions on issues, like supporting drivers licenses for illegal aliens and tolls on state highways. The latter would probably get him dubbed Toll Road Tillis in either a primary or general election.

  • Ryan

    I’m bullish on his prospects in the primary. I’m of the opinion that North Carolina would rather challenge Hagan with someone in-state than someone in Washington, and Raleigh doesn’t have a stronger candidate than Tillis.

  • Raphael Semmes

    With all of Tillis’ extensive self promotion, some of it at taxpayers expense, and relatively high name recognition, he still only runs 6th in the primary polls, including running behind Tea Party favorite Dr. Greg Brannon. That shows Tillis is a weak candidate. The North Carolina based candidate to watch, in addition to Brannon, is former Ambassador Jim Cain, who is also a former Republican National Committeeman from NC and a protégé of the late Senator Jesse Helms. Even though Cain has just recently indicated an interest in this race and has much lower name recognition than Tillis, he is only two points behind Tillis in the polls. Not having served in an elected position, Cain will also not have to worry about a voting record to defend, which is also an advantage that Dr. Brannon has. Tillis has been way too close to a number of political scandals and that will rub off on him. One of his closest legislative allies, former Rep. Stephen LaRoque, whom Tillis defended to the hilt, is now facing trial for a long list of federal felonies. Then there is Zippergate, which involved Tillis’ chief of staff and ROOMMATE.

  • Vivian Bennett-Cohan

    Anyone that runs against Hagan will get my vote. And I am a NC resident.

  • Vivian Bennett-Cohan

    Tillis, is far better to lead us than Hagan.

  • Vivian Bennett-Cohan

    Tillis will get my vote. We need to kick all Dems out of Charlotte…

    I support our new GOP Gov also.

  • Raphael Semmes

    Not really, as they are both opportunists and non-conservatives. The fact is that there are much better candidates out there in the primary who will run better against Hagan and be much better Senators. In the latest poll of prospective primary candidates, Toll Road Tillis ran a pathetic 6th. He is behind the only other announced candidate, Tea Partier Dr. Greg Brannon, and four other prospective candidates. Tillis’ record is a target rich environment for any prospective challenger in the primary or general election.

  • Raphael Semmes

    Tillis is the easiest candidate for Hagan to beat. If you really want to kick Hagan out of office, then you need to support a stronger candidate in the primary. Foxx, Brannon, or Cain would fill the bill. So would State Senate President Phil Berger if he ran, and some think he might.

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