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“Major Hurdles” Grow For Senator Tillis’ Reelection Bid Including “Nasty” Primary, Weak Fundraising & Staggering Unpopularity

Yesterday, Senator Tillis was forced to respond directly to his primary opponent Garland Tucker on air — the “first time the Tillis campaign has mentioned Tucker on TV” — the latest in a series of growing indications that Tillis “appears to be sweating” his primary.

The new TV ad follows a six-figure ad buy from a pro-Garland Tucker group and multiple ads from Garland Tucker’s campaign. Before the latest ad buy, Tillis had already spent $2 million on TV, plus invested in digital ads, radio ads and a microsite.

To make matters worse, Tillis “raised only $1.2 million, an underwhelming sum for a senator facing a credible primary threat and an expensive general election ahead,” while “Cal Cunningham edged Tillis out” in individual donations in the most recent fundraising quarter.

But that’s not all: 

The growing troubles for Tillis make it clear he “will face major hurdles in winning a second term.”

Read more recent coverage of Tillis’ tough position below.

National Journal: Red Flags All Over for Senate Republicans

By Josh Kraushaar – October 20, 2019

  • New polling and fundraising figures show that Mitch McConnell’s hold on the Senate majority is looking awfully precarious.

  • The pathway for a narrow Democratic takeover of the upper chamber is looking clearer than ever.

  • In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis raised only $1.2 million, an underwhelming sum for a senator facing a credible primary threat and an expensive general election ahead.

  • Tillis holds the lowest approval rating (33 percent) of any sitting senator, according to the Morning Consult survey.

  • Before he even faces Cunningham, he’ll have to get past self-funded businessman Garland Tucker in the primary.

  • Tucker has poured $1.2 million of his own money into the campaign—around the same amount Tillis raised in the last three months. Tucker has already been using that money on anti-Tillis campaign ads, forcing the senator to respond in kind.

  • If Cunningham wins the nomination and runs a competent race, Tillis will face major hurdles in winning a second term.

Associated Press: While Trump Rakes in Cash, Some Senate Republicans Lagging

October 24, 2019

  • President Donald Trump is raising record amounts of cash for his 2020 reelection. But that fundraising might isn’t spilling over to the most vulnerable Republicans fighting to hold onto their seats in a narrowly divided Senate.

  • The trouble for Republicans extends to states where they’re supposed to be on firmer ground.

  • North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis narrowly outraised Democrat Cal Cunningham but is also facing a primary challenge from the right that has forced him to spend millions in early TV and radio ads.

  • The lagging numbers suggest that much of the enthusiasm among the GOP base is focused on Trump and doesn’t necessarily translate to Republicans running for other offices.

  • Democrats, meanwhile, are paying close attention to races across the board, including the House, Senate and presidency, fueling them with small-dollar donations that Republicans have struggled to counter.

Politico Morning Score: Voters are supercharged about the 2020 election

By Zach Montellaro – October 24, 2019

  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is up with a new television ad that mentions his primary challenger, as the North Carolina Republican continues to hug President Donald Trump close.

  • Tillis is up with a response ad to his primary challenger Garland Tucker. “Politician Garland Tucker. He lies like a dog, using deceptive editing to make it look like Tillis is against Trump,” the ad’s narrator says.

  • This is the first time the Tillis campaign has mentioned Tucker on TV; a Tillis radio ad released last week also hit his primary challenger.