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NEW: Tillis Forced to Spend Nearly Half His Cash to Fend Off Primary Challenge

Tillis slammed by a second major editorial board for failing to protect military projects — Greensboro News & Record: “the loss of funds could also hurt Tillis, who is up for re-election next year, and who in March voted to support the dubious emergency declaration

Senator Thom Tillis is going up with a $2.2 million ad buy to fend off a primary challenge — a staggering sum to spend this early in the cycle that amounts to nearly half the cash on hand he reported at the end of Q2. 

Capping off a summer that did nothing to restore his credibility with North Carolina GOP voters, Tillis started the week by getting booedtwice – at a GOP rally. Then, Tillis watched as a must-win Republican congressional district swung in Democrats’ direction by double digits. And since it was announced that President Trump would be raiding $80 million from North Carolina’s military construction projects thanks to the emergency declaration Senator Tillis backed, he’s faced furious press backlash across the state as the true cost of his “Olympic-gold flip-flop” becomes clear to North Carolinians.

Here’s why Senator Tillis is already spending millions to try to salvage his re-election hopes:

The Hill: Tillis places big ad buy as he faces wealthy GOP challenger

  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) will spend $2.2 million on television and radio advertisements before his state’s March 3 primary, an early hint that his campaign may be worried about his standing among Republican voters.
  • Tillis faces a challenge from Garland Tucker, a retired venture capitalist who has put at least $700,000 of his own money into his campaign, according to FEC filings made in July. That investment has likely grown since the last reporting deadline.
  • The advertisements, beginning more than a year before November’s election, are another sign that Tillis is among the most vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2020. 
  • The ad buy represents a substantial chunk of Tillis’s available cash — his campaign reported $4.3 million in the bank as of the end of June, the last time candidates were required to disclose their fundraising to the Federal Election Commission.
  • Tillis appeared at a rally with Trump this week in Fayetteville, the day before a special election that sent Rep.-elect Dan Bishop (R) to Washington. But, in a potential sign of his troubles ahead, some Republicans at the Trump rally booed when Tillis took the stage.

Greensboro News & Record: Our Opinion: Robbing Peter to pay for a wall

  • What the president wouldn’t want us to ask him is why, then, he is taking millions of dollars designated for projects on military bases in North Carolina to build his border wall with Mexico, in a move that hurts the military and the state. The loss of funds could also hurt Tillis, who is up for re-election next year, and who in March voted to support the dubious emergency declaration that Trump is using to justify his raid on military construction funds.
  • North Carolina won’t be the only state suffering because of Trump’s tantrum, but it’s one of the hardest hit. Bases here will lose about $80 million that Congress had designated for planned military construction projects. There’s Camp Lejeune, the huge Marine base at Jacksonville, which is struggling after being hit hard last year by Hurricane Florence. Trump is taking $40 million that was supposed to go to a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center there. He’s also taking $32.9 million for a new elementary school at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville and $6.4 million for a storage facility at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base at Goldsboro.

Read more about why Senator Tillis has no one but himself to blame for his long-lost credibility and increasing vulnerability:

  • Washington Post: “Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — who initially announced his opposition to Trump’s emergency declaration only to reverse himself just before the vote to overturn it — stands to lose about $80 million in military projects in North Carolina.”
  • Charlotte Observer: Editorial: “Trump’s wall already was the source of one of the senator’s weakest moments. As N.C. voters surely remember, Tillis announced in February that he would vote against the president’s effort to circumvent Congress and pay for the wall by declaring a national emergency at the southern border. Three weeks later, he backed down and gave his blessing and vote to the president’s overreach. Now that decision will doubly haunt him.”
  • News & Observer: LTE: “I’d like Sen. Thom Tillis to explain himself to the soldiers. He lost $80 million in planned military construction dollars to the border wall that was supposed to [be] paid for by Mexico. If he is not ashamed of himself, he should know that the people of North Carolina are ashamed and embarrassed by his lack [of] representation.”
  • MSNBC: Morning Joe: “I would like to be running against Thom Tillis in North Carolina, either in the Republican primary or against him in the fall, and please explain to me, Senator Tillis, why you allowed $80 million to be diverted from people who really serve our country… he just stole $80 million from your state! How weak are you?”
  • Washington Post: The Trailer: “shortly after denouncing the president’s decision to declare a border emergency as a way to reallocate money not appropriated for the border wall, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina voted to support it… No state got hit harder than North Carolina, where $80 million appropriated for improvements at military bases will be sent to build the wall. That has gotten Tillis mocked by any number of his critics and Democratic opponents.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Tillis’s initial effort to buck the president on the emergency declaration for the wall quickly collapsed after broad opposition from Republicans in his state. While he reversed himself and ultimately came out in support of the emergency declaration, the skepticism was costly, spurring primary challengers to enter the race.”
  • CNBC: Tillis “could face political backlash as the Trump administration will transfer a major chunk of change out of the state: $80 million from three sites. More than $32 million of the sum, funds to replace an elementary school at Fort Bragg, was previously canceled.”
  • Bloomberg: “A handful of Republican senators seeking re-election next year are facing cuts in their states, including Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who penned a Washington Post op-ed to oppose Trump’s emergency declaration, only to later flip and vote with the president in March.”
  • MSNBC: Maddow Blog: “earlier this year, Thom Tillis wrote a compelling op-ed condemning Trump’s gambit to redirect federal funds to border barriers in defiance of Congress’ wishes. The GOP senator said he agreed with the president’s underlying policy goals on border security, but his conscience required him to put principle over party. Two weeks later, Tillis abandoned his principles and endorsed Trump’s legally dubious scheme, ignoring everything the senator had just said in writing.”
  • The Hill: “Hurricane-ravaged bases in Florida, North Carolina and Puerto Rico are among the military sites that will lose funds… The list includes projects in states represented by Republican senators who voted in support of Trump’s emergency declaration. Those include Thom Tillis (N.C.), whose state has three projects on the list worth a combined $80 million”

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