After Losing Credibility with NC Republicans, Tillis Earns a GOP Primary Challenger

Tillis has the “second-lowest base support among GOP senators up in 2020,” businessman Garland Tucker “has the ability to self-fund and could force Tillis to the right in the primary

With Republican support for him cratering in recent months, Senator Tillis has earned himself a primary challenger – a conservative Raleigh businessman with the potential to self-fund his campaign and force Tillis even further right.

Senator Tillis’ recent troubles started with his “Olympic gold flip-flop” on President Trump’s national emergency declaration that put funding for North Carolina military projects at risk. After promising to stand up against the president’s overreach and alienating Republicans, Tillis quickly caved and deserted himself for Trump. A Morning Consult poll released last month found that Senator Tillis paid a price: his approval rating among Republican voters dropped 12 points since the start of the year and he now “has the second-lowest base support among GOP Senators up in 2020.”

Here’s a taste of what North Carolina Republicans have been saying about Tillis:

North Carolina isn’t the only intra-party battle brewing for Senate Republicans, who are also preparing for messy primaries in Alabama and Kansas. With a total of three open Republican seats already emerging because of incumbent retirements, Republicans may also have crowded free-for-alls in states like Wyoming and Tennessee.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Stewart Boss issued the following statement:

“Senator Tillis earned this primary challenge with his self-serving political gymnastics, and it will without a doubt make his already embattled re-election campaign even more difficult.”


Raleigh News & Observer: Tillis draws Senate primary challenge from Raleigh businessman

By Brian Murphy

May 6, 2019

Key Points:

  • Sen. Thom Tillis has drawn a Republican challenger in 2020.
  • Garland Tucker III, the retired chairman and CEO of Triangle Capital Corporation and an author, filed to run in the Republican primary on Monday. Tucker wrote “Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Changed America — Jefferson to Reagan” and has served on the board of the John Locke Foundation and the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute.
  • Charles Hellwig, the former Wake County GOP chair and current 4th District GOP chair, is serving as campaign manager. Longtime Republican political consultant Carter Wrenn is also working for Tucker.
  • Though he has voted reliably with President Donald Trump, 94.7 percent of the time, according to, Tillis has earned criticism from some conservatives for his position on immigration, protecting the special counsel and Trump’s national emergency declaration.
  • Tillis wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post opposing Trump’s national emergency, but ultimately voted along with the president’s position — earning national attention for his change of heart.
  • A recent Morning Consult poll found that Tillis lost 12 percentage points of support among North Carolina Republicans in early 2019.
  • “Running against an incumbent is never easy. It’s an uphill battle, but Tillis’ weakness with conservative Republicans is encouraging,” Wrenn said. “I wouldn’t be supporting someone who wasn’t to the right of Tillis.”


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