Join the Campaign


100 Days, 100 Ways Thom Tillis’ Re-Election Bid Is Looking “Perilous”

With Just 100 Days Until Election Day, Here’s A Look At All The Reasons Tillis Is In For A Tough Campaign

RALEIGH, NC — Today marks 100 days until Election Day, so we’re outlining 100 ways Thom Tillis reelection campaign is looking “perilous,” and why national Republicans are “sounding alarms.” 

“In 100 days, North Carolina voters have a clear choice,” said Kate Frauenfelder, spokeswoman for Cal Cunningham’s campaign. “From being too weak to stand up to his corporate backers or his own party, to failing to deliver on critical issues like health care for North Carolinians, Thom Tillis has his work cut out for him. Cal Cunningham is ready to put this seat back to work for the people of North Carolina.” 

100 days. 100 ways. Let’s start with one of Tillis’ biggest hurdles — Cal’s momentum. 

10 Ways Momentum Is On Cal’s Side

  1. Cal has traveled the state engaging with North Carolinians, and when that was no longer safe due to COVID-19, Cal brought the “same spirit of the campaign” onto Zoom by hosting over 100 virtual events.
  2. Cal has been endorsed by dozens of elected officials and community leaders across North Carolina, as well as North Carolina and national organizations. 
  3. Cal has been leading in poll after poll, while Tillis is struggling with his Republican base and independent voters. 
  4. The Cook Political Report reported: “‘If you’re an incumbent in a bad environment sitting at 44 percent, you should be pretty damn scared,’ another alarmed Republican strategist said.” Yikes. 
  5. According to a recent High Point University poll, 32% say they approve of the job Tillis is doing.
  6. Cal has received support from all 100 counties in North Carolina.
  7. Cal raised $7.4 million in the second quarter.
  8. Cal nearly tripled Thom Tillis’ $2.6 million for the second quarter, erasing his cash-on-hand advantage.
  9. Cal has received donations from nearly 29,000 North Carolinians over the course of the cycle.
  10. Ninety-six percent of Cal’s contributions have been under $100.

10 Ways Tillis Has Been Criticized By His Own Base

  1. Well to start, Republicans have booed Thom Tillis at Trump rallies — multiple times.
  2. The New York Times described Tillis as “a Republican who polls show is strikingly unpopular.”
  3. Larry Holmquist, one of the Republicans who challenged Tillis in the primary, said he is “disgusted by Thom Tillis’ flip-flopping and inconsistency on issues that are critical to conservatives.”
  4. One Republican from Whiteville, North Carolina justifying not voting for Tillis: “a snake don’t turn into a puppy just because he puts a flea collar on.”
  5. A North Carolina Republican operative in reference to Tillis’ low support from Republican primary voters: “As a Republican, and you’re polling Republicans, and your hard reelect number is 17 percent, you’re so far underwater, you need a SCUBA tank, not a snorkel,”
  6. One former Tillis donor: “I supported Tillis, but I’m not going to do it again.” 
  7. Another Republican from Marshville: “I don’t like Thom Tillis, he’s wishy-washy.”
  8. A Republican from Archdale: “He flip-flopped on a number of issues at the last second to save his own butt to keep from getting voted out. He switched his opinions, he doesn’t support Trump. He’s a fair-weather friend.”
  9. Another conservative voter who supported Tillis in 2014: “I’ve donated money to Thom Tillis and supported Thom Tillis in the past. On the issues, I could support Republicans more than Democrats. But I believe Trump has done so much damage to this country, and that also means throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
  10. Lastly, Former Republican Congresswoman Claudine Schneider wrote an op-ed highlighting Tillis’ “betrayal of principles” asking “where did Thom Tillis’s integrity go?”

10 Ways He Has Put Corporate Special Interests Ahead of North Carolinians

  1. According to the Daily Beast, “[h]e’s perhaps best known for getting lots of money from big pharma, big oil, big banks and payday lenders, and for pushing their preferred policies.”
  2. Tillis’ “outcomes generally favor the well-heeled and corporate interests.”
  3. Example 1: “When oil prices dropped, Tillis wrote a letter to the administration urging there be no ‘oil and gas bias’ when distributing economic relief funds. After a White House summit with the industry on April 3, Tillis received over $60,000 in corporate PAC checks from companies that had attended the summit.”
  4. Tillis and big oil go way back. His maiden speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate was advocating for offshore drilling off the coast of North Carolina. 
  5. Example 2: “Payday lenders have been a pet project of Tillis’… Tillis warned against ‘overreach’ or ‘painting with a broad brush’ an industry he regards as a lifeline. Within days of the hearing, he had received more than $20,000 from four major payday lenders.”
  6. Example 3: “When the big banks were sued by small business owners for prioritizing their corporate clients in granting government relief funds, Tillis took in more than $43,000 from the corporate PACs of the banks named in the lawsuit—Bank Of America, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo—saying he didn’t see any evidence they were favoring big business over small business.”
  7. You get the picture, so it’s no surprise that “[o]nly 7 percent of his first quarter campaign contributions this year came from small donations.”
  8. Tillis even chooses his corporate backers over North Carolina veterans. He accepted tens of thousands of dollars from for-profit colleges and payday lenders and supported legislation to deregulate the for-profit college industry, including Bridgepoint Education PAC. Bridgepoint’s Ashford University had targeted wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune, including one with traumatic brain injury. Bridgepoint was even under investigation by North Carolina for its unlawful student loan practices. 
  9. Tillis voted to gut pre-existing conditions protections, even calling it “courageous,” after taking over $300,000 from the insurance industry
  10. No wonder he tried to say that “even the pharmaceutical companies in North Carolina” are struggling during the pandemic. 

10 Ways Tillis Has Been On The Wrong Side Of The Health Care Debate

  1. Thom Tillis has voted to fully repeal or partially repeal the Affordable Care Act 13 times.
  2. He even called one of these votes “courageous” because it would cut protections for pre-existing conditions.
  3. He voted to defend “junk” insurance plans that allow insurance companies to offer plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs, mental health or maternity benefits.
  4. Thom Tillis has stood behind the administration’s reckless lawsuit aiming to dismantle the bill.
  5. And then claimed he supported anything that took the ACA “off the table.”
  6. He voted to take away protections for the 1.7 million North Carolinians living with pre-existing conditions, while claiming “for the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would be opposed,” pointing to his bill called the Protect Act.
  7. Experts say Tillis’ Protect Act would leave many protections “on the cutting room floor.”
  8. Tillis “has taken credit for being the one to stop Medicaid expansion in the state” — a decision that according to a recent Families U.S.A. report has meant the percentage of laid-off workers that became uninsured is double in states like North Carolina compared to states that have expanded Medicaid.
  9. He even ran ads in 2014 saying that he “stopped Obama’s Medicaid expansion cold.”
  10. And while hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are out of work and without health care coverage, Thom Tillis’ “plan” on COVID-19 has no mention of providing health care for North Carolinians. 

10 Ways Tillis Failed To Stand Up To His Own Party

  1. A #NCSEN classic — Tillis’ “Olympic gold flip-flop” “for the ages” — in which he firmly opposed the president’s border emergency saying it violated the Constitution’s separation of powers. Just a few weeks later, he voted for it.
  2. Tillis quickly became the 2020 case study of GOP subservience, as this Republican strategist said: “Tillis was a wake-up call for everyone…If you disagreed with something the president did, it was like, ‘Be careful; you saw what happened to Tillis.’”
  3. Even as other Senate Republicans voted to overturn a Trump-DeVos rule that makes it harder for students, including veterans, defrauded by colleges to get help, Thom Tillis voted against the resolution.
  4. He refused to stand up to Senator Burr, declining to say whether he should step down from his Senate Intelligence Committee chairmanship after he used his position for financial gain.
  5. And in the age of coronavirus and 100 days until the Election, Tillis can’t afford to have any daylight between him and the president. Remember that memo.
  6. That’s why even as other Republican Senators and Rep. Mark Walker spoke up about the failure of the Administration to respond to the coronavirus and make testing widely available earlier on in this crisis, Tillis insisted the President had “taken every step he can to help the safety of the people in the United States,” had displayed “decisive leadership, and that concern over chaos caused by the president was “not productive.”
  7. Tillis couldn’t even stand up to the president when he suggested that bleach might cure the coronavirus. WFAE reports: “It’s been easy for Tillis to support the official recommendations from the White House coronavirus task force but challenging when asked about the president’s suggestion last week that people might be cured by injecting disinfectant. The Tillis campaign did not disavow that comment but said that people who think they are sick should contact their doctor.”
  8. He also stayed silent on the firings of the several Inspectors General that the president fired in a matter of months, begging the question, what will Tillis “actually do to make clear that Trump riding roughshod over the oversight process is unacceptable?
  9. After the president tear gassed peaceful protestors to clear the way for a photo-op in front of a church, some GOP Senators defended his actions or rebuked them. Tillis “sidestepped the question” and said it “came close” to an inappropriate use of the military. The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer Editorial Board wrote: “It was terrifying. It was shameful. If it leaves you shaking your head and asking where the bottom is with Donald Trump, we understand. If it leaves you speechless, however, then maybe your name is Thom Tillis.”
  10. Instead of angering the president who was insistent on having an in-person convention in Charlotte, Tillis said that “leaders need to stretch goals.” Turns out having a massive multi-day public gathering in a state with rising cases is not a good idea. 

10 Ways Tillis Has Put His Foot In His Mouth 

  1. He said North Carolinians would vote for him because “people remember how good their lives were back in February.”
  2. He’s hoping to “to simply ‘yada yada yada’ away the Trump administration’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic.”
  3. He singled out the Hispanic community in North Carolina for not social distancing or wearing masks without providing any evidence, leading to this headline in the Washington Post: “‘Respect the people that feed America’: GOP senator slammed for suggesting Hispanics don’t wear masks or social distance”
  4. Thom Tillis said he didn’t believe the government should require restaurant employees to wash their hands. This comment definitely didn’t age well, considering we are in the midst of a public health crisis. 
  5. He refused to take down one of his campaign ads, even after it was revealed that a man featured in the spot was being sued for racial discrimination.
  6. Tillis predicted “by August everything will look different” in reference to the coronavirus pandemic. Well, August is almost here and North Carolina has surpassed 100,000 coronavirus cases and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are out of work and without health coverage. 
  7. After Republicans failed to come together within their own party to propose additional coronavirus relief, letting federal unemployment benefits expire for 30 million Americans, Tillis said: “It’s a normal part of the sausage factory.”
  8. Tillis’ election-year tough talk on China was quickly exposed for the transparent political bluster that it was when a GOP memo was leaked. Turns out, he’s pretending to be tough on China because Mitch McConnell told him to. 
  9. One of Thom Tillis’ greatest pastimes — getting ratioed on Twitter. According to Indy Week, in the first few weeks of 2020, Twitter “dunk[ed] on Tillis 75.56 percent of the time.”
  10. One of our favorites is when Twitter (rightfully) erupted after he tweeted asking his followers to sign a birthday card for Trump’s son Eric. The Charlotte Observer wrote: “At a moment when the country is grappling with the unsettling U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani — a time when we’d like our members of Congress to position themselves as a thoughtful check on any president’s action — Tillis was acting more like a party planner.”

10 Ways Tillis “Forgot The Little Guy”

  1. Thom Tillis says “my job is fighting for your job,” but he won’t tell you that he is responsible for “one of the stingiest state unemployment programs in the country.”
  2. He filmed his first ad in front of a mobile home, but the Huffington Post reported that “when [Thom Tillis] was serving as speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2013, [he] voted to hike taxes on mobile home buyers like the ones he grew up with.”
  3. Thom Tillis is also the reason why hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians fall in the coverage gap today without Medicaid expansion. He even bragged about making it illegal to expand Medicaid. 
  4. He’s opposed bipartisan efforts to lower prescription drug costs, in fear of incurring “the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.” 
  5. When he says, “my job is fighting for your job,” he really only means it if you’re one of his corporate backers. Because of Tillis’ tax bill, 80 percent of North Carolinians will pay more in taxes, while it was estimated that it could save his Koch donors over $1 billion in income taxes.
  6. Thanks to the 2017 tax bill that Tillis supported, four of the largest pharma companies collectively saved $7 billion and used that windfall to enrich their executives and shareholders.
  7. He sold out North Carolina families to reward his wealthy donors. If they didn’t, donors “said that they would either stop writing checks to the party or divert their money elsewhere should tax cuts end up being stalled.”
  8. But the “verdict is in,” on the GOP tax bill, says the News & Observer editorial board: “It’s a mistake that’s holding back North Carolina. Republican lawmakers won’t admit the mistake — that’s why they keep making it. But next November, voters should correct it.”
  9. Even during a pandemic, he’s failing to serve the people of North Carolina. As federal benefits expire and eviction moratoriums end this weekend, Thom Tillis left Washington without taking any action to extend unemployment benefits for the more than a million North Carolinians who remain out of work, including Morgan Childers who says: “I think that’s basically what I’ll be forced into within the next three weeks…I’ll be forced to get a job that puts my health at risk.”
  10. North Carolinians, like Larry in Durham, aren’t buying Tillis election-year costume change: “I was flabbergasted to see Sen. Thom Tillis spending lots of money on slick TV ads that say nothing about what he’s done in Washington for the past five and a half years. He has the audacity to say he’s fighting for our jobs. He passed a huge tax cut for the rich three years ago, cut unemployment benefits when he was N.C. General Assembly leader, and now he and his party are resisting extending unemployment benefits for the millions without jobs. Tillis doing what he’s told to do by the NRA, Trump, and other big corporations, but nothing for the people of North Carolina.”

10 Ways Tillis Failed To Lead North Carolina Through The Coronavirus

  1. Tillis voted against a bipartisan bill to increase funding for the CDC and seven times to eliminate or slash funding for the prevention and public health fund.
  2. Tillis voted to weaken the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits, which provided coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. 
  3. Tillis waited a full month to take any action on coronavirus after he was briefed. Instead, he attended a Trump event and renamed a Post Office.
  4. Tillis packed up for the weekend back in March without passing legislation to provide adequate testing.
  5. Tillis voted twice for the $500 billion fund that lacked meaningful oversight of the taxpayer money, offering no guard against the president’s ultimate firing of multiple federal watchdogs.
  6. Tillis sat back and did nothing when the Administration shipped China nearly 18 tons of supplies when the national stockpile was nearly depleted and states across the country, including North Carolina, were competing with each other to get what they need to keep their health care workers and residents safe.
  7. Tillis and his boss Mitch McConnell delayed action on additional relief for months, forcing a gap in federal unemployment benefits to be unavoidable
  8. The CBC editorial board is asking, “where’s Tills?” — “They’ve been off the radar when it comes to addressing the coronavirus pandemic. There’s some important business they need to attend to.” 
  9. Chalked up the inaction to just being “a normal part of the sausage factory.”  
  10. Finally, *six* months later, he releases a plan to combat the coronavirus that still ignores many of the needs of North Carolinians, like providing health care coverage to North Carolinians without coverage in a pandemic, extending unemployment benefits, or providing relief for the cities and towns who are facing massive budget shortfalls.

10 Ways Tillis Failed North Carolina’s Military Community

  1. After writing an op-ed announcing his opposition to the White House’s emergency declaration to redirect funding for military bases to fund Trump’s border wall, he delivered an “Olympic gold flip-flop,” changing his mind and voting for it THREE times, raiding about $80 million from North Carolina military projects and installations. 
  2. Editorial boards and military families all criticized Tillis’ flip flop, with one military spouse at Fort Bragg asking “How can we trust you to fix it if you’re taking money from us actively for a border wall?’
  3. 10-year Army veteran and former Deputy Secretary for Military Affairs for the State of North Carolina Jason Cain said: “Our most elite special operations soldiers and warriors call North Carolina home. I served with those warriors and I know that Thom Tillis is no warrior.”
  4. Tillis blocked a bill that would have allowed the Department of Veterans Affair to pay for IVF, forcing veterans to continue paying high out-of-pocket costs.
  5. The Paralyzed Veterans of America called Tillis’ amendment “histrionic political grandstanding.”
  6. Tillis supported the Republican tax bill, even though it hiked taxes on Gold Star Families, forcing some to pay thousands of dollars in taxes on survivor benefits. 
  7. Tillis accepted $17,000 from a for-profit college that preyed on North Carolina servicemembers, and backed a bill to deregulate the industry. 
  8. As speaker of the North Carolina House, Tillis took $30,000 from the payday lending industry and passed legislation allowing them to hike interest rates, even though military groups said it would hurt servicemembers.
  9. Tillis accepted thousands from the payday lending industry in his Senate career, while opposing pro-consumer measures that would protect servicemembers and veterans’ from predatory practices. 
  10. Instead of actually standing up for our troops, Tillis sold Santa hats that said “support our troops,” to fund his flailing reelection campaign. 

10 Reasons North Carolinians Are Ready For Change

  1. Ronald in Wake Forest: “Sen. Thom Tillis, I’m demanding that you, as my senator, support the Affordable Care Act that was passed in previous years. You owe us, as your constituents, your support of this act.” 
  2. Donald Streb from Hendersonville: “Thom Tillis has represented N.C. for five and a half years, and during this time the only thing I have heard from Sen. Tillis was his stand against Trump in an op-ed in the Washington Post. He later reversed himself on March 14, 2019…This sudden turnaround that is supposedly a show of his concern for the N.C. constituents will not buy my vote, as he has allowed to happen to him from the money and power machine of the Republican Party.”
  3. Phil Griffin in Greensboro: “In November 2020, we will have the opportunity to erase the stain Tillis’s cowardice has inflicted on North Carolina. We need to remember to do that.”
  4. Lois Roewade in Pfafftown: “Tillis, your time is up. Women will have no more of you come Nov. 3.” 
  5. Pedro Alvarez in Denver: “For me, today’s GOP is morally bankrupt. Tillis’ comments about Hispanics and masks are unacceptable. Both my father and I are veterans. He was a Vietnam vet, awarded the Bronze Star. I am a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Commander. Tillis’ comments about Hispanics and masks are unacceptable…For Tillis, it is time to go.”
  6. Dan Flak in Greensboro: “You claim that you are not a scientist or statistician. I am & my claim is that the infection rate is due to poverty and lack of available health care — a lack of health care you enforced with every vote against Medicaid.”
  7. Stacie Borrello in Fuquay-Varina: “Sen. Thom Tillis has held some telephone town halls since the coronavirus crisis started. Tuesday, I joined his audio livestream and submitted several written questions about the need to provide medical treatment to COVID-19 patients regardless of income. All were ignored…Lives are at stake! Tillis should face real questions like: ‘How will you ensure N.C. residents receive the tests and treatment they need without going bankrupt?’ Or, ‘Could our state legislature better respond to this pandemic by expanding Medicaid, which could keep more rural hospitals open?’”
  8. Jared Bateman in Fayetteville: “I submitted a question about Senator Tillis’ voting record on healthcare access, but unsurprisingly, he chose not to answer it. In his time in office, he has continuously voted to reduce access to healthcare, such as voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and block Medicaid expansion in the states.”
  9. Gus Preschle in Lewisville: “I know Cunningham has our back. That’s why he is exactly the kind of advocate military families need in the U.S. Senate. Cunningham will have my vote in the primaries and in November.”
  10. Carol Meyers from Lexington: “Cal has an impressive record of service to North Carolina and also to America through his life choices. I’m supporting Cal because I believe he will make an excellent senator for North Carolina and for America and is one we really need in Washington. I hope you will support him, too.”

It’s clear — Thom Tillis has a LOT of explaining to do over the next 100 days, and North Carolina voters are ready to hold him accountable at the ballot box.