Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Thom Tillis Wins GOP Nomination Outright in North Carolina Senate Race

Tillis is the GOP's nominee in North Carolina. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis scored a major victory on Tuesday night, when he won the GOP primary outright to become his party’s nominee to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.

Tillis garnered 46 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race for him around 9:20 p.m. He defeated Greg Brannon, an obstetrician aligned with the tea party who had support from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who finished with 27 percent of the vote, and Mark Harris, a pastor, who had focused his appeal on social conservatism and was backed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who had 17 percent of the vote.

The Republican needed at least 40 percent of the vote to avoid a late-summer runoff against one of his opponents.

Hagan is considered one of the cycle’s most vulnerable incumbents and a top target for Republicans in their quest to take back the Senate.

National groups like American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race to back Tillis during the primary, whom they saw as the strongest candidate to take on Hagan in the fall.

Hagan evidently felt the same way: Last week, her campaign sent mailers that sought to cast Tillis as too liberal, in an effort to hurt him in the primary.

Her path to victory remains difficult. North Carolina voters are not fond of President Barack Obama, whose approval rating is under water, 41 percent to 49 percent, according to a recent New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Hagan’s own approval rating is split at 44 percent.

But Tillis has some potential vulnerabilities, too, which the Hagan campaign will likely exploit. During his tenure as speaker, the Legislature produced a lot of controversial and conservative legislation, including laws requiring voter identification. Democrats argue that this shows he is too conservative for the statewide electorate.

Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, has already been running ads attacking Tillis for giving severance packages to former staffers who were forced to resign after it came out that they were having affairs with lobbyists.

The race is rated Tilts Democratic by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • bpai99

    I give Tillis credit for voicing his hate and bigotry in ways more subtle and coded than those of the primary lunatics he just defeated. Let’s see how much he can run from past statements in the general election against Hagan. Of course, this is NC and so expressing hate towards the sick and poor is a path to victory there, so maybe he will win by doubling down on his past statements.

    “But what we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on [public] assistance.” – Thom Tillis

  • cnourse57

    Bpai99, you are one sick left winger when you state “Of course, this is NC and so expressing hate towards the sick and poor is a path to victory there…” I have lived in NC most of my adult life, and have NEVER found an attitude that you assume is accurate. It is not.

  • roastytoasty

    Bpai99 is clouding the issue with inflammatory speech and quotes taken out of context. It’s a Leftist tactic to distract from the Left’s real agenda

  • southernsue

    remember the demon party likes to spew lies
    the uniformed will not know the difference

    NC used to be very beautiful, however, when the state went blue the beauty of the state went also

    lots of jobs sent the demons down to work
    and they also took their demon votes with them and turned the state blue

    lots of lost jobs now
    we will see how it comes out

    i pray that the beautiful state of NC will turn red again

  • Redskinsfan2

    The horror! Tillis favored voter ID legislation. Hagan supported Obamafraud, knowing the president lied about people being able to keep plans and doctors and that the average premium cost would drop by $2,500. Can’t wait for her to lose and lose big.

  • conservmommy

    The normal GOP rocked it last night! Congratulations to them! And so sad, the crazy went down in flames. they were entertaining for a while, but they bore us now.

  • View From The Left

    ” attitude that you assume is accurate. It is not.”
    Too bad your response proved his point: hateful and uninformed.

  • View From The Left
  • View From The Left

    Here’s a critique of “Agenda”, the reich-wing “movie” that you linked to:

    You’ve been schooled.

  • Haley Schmitterbach

    Even though Marxism is revolutionary and Fabianism gradualist, the centrally dictated system that each envisions is basically the same.

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