I watched the results as they came in last night, and it was clear once the State Board of Elections site got their “display side” website errors fixed that the NC primary for the right to challenge Hagan in the fall wasn’t going to be much of a contest:
N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who had full-fledged support from the state and national Republican establishment, beat back challengers favored by tea party activists and Christian conservatives to win the right Tuesday to take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November.
In Tillis’ victory speech, delivered in front of an American flag at an uptown Charlotte hotel, he wasted no time in framing the fall campaign as a fight to not only retire Hagan, but also strike a blow against President Barack Obama’s policies and wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats.
“Kay Hagan and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid are nothing but an echo chamber for President Obama’s worst ideas,” Tillis said. “If we want to change the mess of Obamacare, we have to change our senator.”
With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, Tillis, who lives in Huntersville, received 45.67 percent of the vote. He needed 40 percent to avoid a July 15 runoff that would have forced him to spend precious time and money that he’ll now get to spend trying to unseat Hagan.
For Brannon supporters, this loss is understandably a bitter pill to swallow. Brannon was the Tea Party favorite here, had the backing of popular Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee, popular conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, and the conservative group Freedomworks. They campaigned hard, but in the end primary voters picked Tillis – who had the backing of Karl Rove, NC Governor Pat McCrory, former FL Governor Jeb Bush and even had a late endorsement by Mitt Romney.
Hopefully the wounds this primary inflicted on Republicans in this state will heal soon and everyone will unite, because we need to defeat Kay Hagan and make both Obama’s and Harry Reid’s jobs a lot more difficult – which the GOP can do with a majority in the US Senate:
The winner this fall could tilt the partisan balance in the closely split U.S. Senate, and North Carolina’s importance in the national picture is readily apparent in the nearly $20 million spent by outside political groups in recent months to influence the race, particularly voters’ opinions about the federal health care law.
But, to beat Hagan, Tillis will first have to unite a state GOP that remains a reflection of the fissures dividing the national party. The combined vote totals for Brannon and Harris nearly matched Tillis’ total.
“The factionalization within the state GOP is still there,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College. “The big question for Tillis: Can he consolidate that half of the Republican Party and get them energized for November? He’ll have their votes – if he can get them to the polls.”
Tillis reached out to his primary opponents during his speech Tuesday night, saying he and they “are on the same team – the team to beat Kay Hagan.”
Neither Tillis nor Brannon would have been my first choices to take on Kay Hagan, but Tillis is the winner and more than anything I want the woman responsible for helping craft and shove through Obamacare – which has cost this state jobs and caused nearly 500,000 people to lose their insurance – out of office. Senator Hagan is also staunchly pro-abortion, and has the backing of abortion groups like Emily’s List. North Carolina is a pro-life state, and I hope Thom Tillis doesn’t hesitate to point that out when Hagan tries the tired, stale war on women tactics her campaign staff are already launching.
Onward we go.