February 25, 2020/Media

A Year After Penning Infamous Op-Ed, Tillis Still Trying to Clean Up His Mess

One year ago, Senator Tillis wrote his now infamous op-ed promising to stand up to the president as a matter of “principle” and vote against the emergency declaration.

One year — and one spineless “Olympic gold flip flop” — later, Senator Tillis’ reversal has cost North Carolina military bases $80 million, enabled the president to raid more money from our military and the National Guard, and defined Senator Tillis’ floundering reelection campaign.

Tillis tried to brush aside his high profile, humiliating flip flop, claiming it was just a “short-term distraction.” But as the last year has shown, it’s been anything but. Since then, Tillis:

Has faced scathing backlash from conservatives – a wound that still hasn’t healed. Tillis “lost credibility with North Carolina Republicans” and was booed at not one but two Trump rallies. Polling last week revealed that Tillis is still trying to make up lost ground – he’s underwater with voters and he trails Trump’s approval rating with base Republicans by 28 points (92% – 64%).

  • Morning Consult: Thom Tillis Loses Credibility With North Carolina Republicans

Voted three times to allow $80 million to be raided from NC bases, with the price tag continuing to grow… Tillis’ votes cost Camp Lejeune $40 million meant for a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base $6.4 million, and Fort Bragg nearly $33 million. In the last few months an additional $3.7 billion in military construction funding and nearly $4 billion in “money intended to build fighter jets, ships, vehicles and National Guard equipment” have reportedly been put at risk.

…Then, failed to deliver for North Carolina with his many empty promises to backfill the funding… Tillis wrote that he has “taken action” to secure the additional funding, but in the end “the new budget doesn’t replace the money.”

…And faced criticism from military families and conservative voters. One military spouse asked Senator Tillis to his face, “How can we trust you to fix it if you’re taking money from us actively for a border wall?” Conservative voters, meanwhile, called him “wishy-washy” and “a fair-weather friend.” Another said, of Tillis, “A snake don’t turn into a puppy just because he puts a flea collar on.”

Was humiliated by in-state coverage and national coverage. Local editorial after editorial pilloried Senator Tillis for caving on his principles, while national commentators said he “caved like a $4 suitcase” and wrote that Tillis provided “the kind of distilled proof one rarely gets in the real world of how the Republican Party has abandoned principle for expediency and political survival in the Trump era.”

Has been defined by his flip flop, leading to dismal approval ratings. Nonpartisan elections analysts have shifted Tillis’ race to “Toss Up” because Tillis’ “personal favorability numbers are not good,” he has an “image problem” with voters, and because “voters of all ideological stripes simply don’t trust Tillis.Polling from last week put numbers behind that analysis – Tillis’ approval rating is underwater and key voting groups, including independents, women, suburban women, and military households, all disapprove of Tillis.