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10.29.19

Wall Street Journal Reports Thom Tillis “Defending His Trump Bona Fides” In Reelection Bid Being Met With “Moans And Groans” From His Own Party

In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal yesterday profiled Senator Thom Tillis’ reelection bid, which is being met with “moans and groans” from those within his own party, forcing him into “defending his Trump bona fides”

The Wall Street Journal writes that “dominating” Tillis’ reelection bid is the fact that though he is now “in lockstep” with President Trump, “he hasn’t always been,” and the “earlier daylight between Mr. Tillis and Mr. Trump has given an opening to his opponent in next March’s primary, businessman Garland Tucker.”

For months, Tillis has been underwater with GOP voters in North Carolina. And the Wall Street Journal’s reporting uncovered local distrust in Tillis and the complicated position he’s in:

  • “If I were to take a dipstick check of the state right now, this race is a lot more competitive than a lot of folks in Washington know,” said Jim Womack, GOP chairman in rural Lee County. “If the president went back to a neutral stance, Tillis is toast.

  • Terri Gore, who describes herself as “Trump first, Republican second,” was among those booing. Ms. Gore, a registered nurse from Whiteville, said she is happy to see Mr. Tillis defend the president but that it is too late to earn her vote. A snake don’t turn into a puppy just because he puts a flea collar on,” she said.

Three consecutive polls have shown Tillis losing to his opponent Cal Cunningham, and top race raters to move the race to toss-up, including Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Read more from the Wall Street Journal below.


Wall Street Journal: Earlier Breaks With Trump Linger in North Carolina Senate Race

By Valerie Bauerlein – October 28, 2019

  • Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is in lockstep with President Trump these days on everything from impeachment to Syria. But he hasn’t always been.

  • That discrepancy is dominating the first-term senator’s bid for re-election next year, as he faces a conservative challenger in a GOP primary in which rural Trump loyalists hold sway.

  • He has since thrown his support completely behind Mr. Trump, decrying what he called the “baseless impeachment circus” and adopting the slogan of “Trump & Tillis: Keeping America Great.”

  • That earlier daylight between Mr. Tillis and Mr. Trump has given an opening to his opponent in next March’s primary, businessman Garland Tucker.

  • Mr. Tucker got into the race after the senator wrote a February op-ed opposing Mr. Trump’s plan to fund the border wall by a national-emergency declaration. And even though Mr. Tillis reversed course, Mr. Tucker is running campaign ads characterizing him as a flip-flopper.

  • “If I were to take a dipstick check of the state right now, this race is a lot more competitive than a lot of folks in Washington know,” said Jim Womack, GOP chairman in rural Lee County. “If the president went back to a neutral stance, Tillis is toast.”

  • Mr. Tillis is running $2 million in ads defending his Trump bona fides, including a new ad featuring a pug in a tie, saying Mr. Tucker “lies like a dog,” particularly about Mr. Tillis’s record on a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.

  • Mr. Tillis is ranked among the most vulnerable Senate incumbents in 2020. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently changed the race’s rating to “lean Republican” from “likely Republican,” citing the primary as a factor.

  • Next November, the Republican candidate is likely to face former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, whose candidacy is being championed by national Democrats.

  • Cook Political analyst Jennifer Duffy said Mr. Tillis must walk a fine line between being conservative enough for Republicans in a primary and remaining moderate enough for Democrats in a general election. “As a result, he doesn’t seem to please either side,” she said.

  • Terri Gore, who describes herself as “Trump first, Republican second,” was among those booing. Ms. Gore, a registered nurse from Whiteville, said she is happy to see Mr. Tillis defend the president but that it is too late to earn her vote. “A snake don’t turn into a puppy just because he puts a flea collar on,” she said.

Read the full article here.