North Carolina Democrats got our hands on Senator Tillis’ latest memo about the state of the race as the second quarter reports are due and it’s a doozy. From money woes to copying failed campaign strategies and attacking voters’ health care, the second quarter put a particularly harsh spotlight on Senator Tillis’ campaign. Don’t take it from us – read the full leaked memo below.
To: Interested Parties
From: Thom Tillis for Senate
Date: July 2020
RE: The State of Play After Q2
As we close out the second quarter of the 2020 North Carolina Senate race, the Tillis campaign is in a very weak position both internally in terms of resources and externally in terms of the candidate’s positions on the issues that matter to the people of North Carolina.
Here’s an overview of our campaign’s strategy as of mid-summer:
- “YADDA, YADDA, YADDA” AWAY CORONAVIRUS. Remember back in February, before the President, who Senator Tillis has enabled at every turn and is “in the tank” for, bungled the coronavirus crisis, leaving nearly 88,000 North Carolinians infected and more than 1 million to file jobless claims? Wasn’t life good back then? Here’s hoping voters simply won’t remember the public health crisis, unemployment crisis, and overt racism from the administration — that’s surely a winning message and definitely not “the most severe form of political wishful thinking” anyone’s ever seen.
- DON’T “COME CLOSE” TO FIXING OUR LACKLUSTER FUNDRAISING & NO SMALL DOLLAR SUPPORT. Here’s the truth — we “started off the cycle at a slower fundraising clip,” our own campaign blasted our fundraising last quarter when we got “smoked” by Cal Cunningham, and we won’t “come close” to fixing it in Q2, according to unnamed Republicans. Oh also, we raised just 7% of our cash from small dollar donors in the first quarter — and kept that standard going for Q2. So what if our opponent raised a record $7.4 million this quarter and more than 96 percent were $100 or less?
- IGNORE A DECADE IN POLITICS PUTTING WEALTHY SPECIAL INTERESTS FIRST. Tillis steered the legislature into a hard-right direction as Speaker — transforming North Carolina into “the worst state to be unemployed,” blocking Medicaid expansion, and underfunding public education. Then he went to DC, where Tillis became “perhaps best known for getting lots of money from big pharma, big oil, big banks and payday lenders, and for pushing their preferred policies.” But we’re just going to paper over that decade in politics and try to spin that we’re looking out for the little guy — while really helping our corporate backers.
- KEEP ATTACKING VOTERS’ HEALTH CARE. It’s a top issue for voters that’s become even more important because of the pandemic — but we just can’t help but remind voters that we stopped Medicaid expansion “cold,” support a reckless ACA lawsuit, and have voted repeatedly to “take away” protections for pre-existing conditions.
- KEEP THE BASE MAD AT US WHILE MAKING NO “INROADS” WITH INDEPENDENTS. We are “still struggling to win over base” Republicans, even after nearly $2 million dollars in ads — including ones that put Trump front and center. But — here’s the good part — we are also alienating independent voters, leaving the in-state press to note, “I am not sure he has made any inroads with the independent base in North Carolina.” That worked out for Senators Kelly Ayotte and Joe Heck, right?
- FEATURE PEOPLE “AT THE CENTER” OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS IN OUR ADS. Look, how are we supposed to know that someone we put on TV is “at the center” of a racial discrimination lawsuit? Read the local news, which covered the lawsuit “extensively”? Do the bare minimum due diligence? Google? Not our style. We’d rather keep up our “rookie mistakes.”
- COPY A FAILED STRATEGY FROM A HISTORICALLY BAD CANDIDATE. This memo? Copied. Future memos? Copied. Our campaign strategy? “Literally” lifted from Ed Gillespie’s failed 2017 campaign that saw him run a race-baiting campaign only to lose by a historic 9 points. If at first you don’t succeed, right?
Not all campaigns are the same. Some candidates are strengthened by them, while some are made weaker. The 2020 Senate race is proving Senator Tillis is in the latter — a weak politician who’s getting weaker, with no small dollar support and a far-right record of failures attacking voters’ health care that put him out of line with the views of North Carolinians. The base still doesn’t like Tillis and we’ve made no inroads with independents. Cal Cunningham has held us accountable on voters #1 issue, while also filling his coffers by raising $7.4 million, “a record for Senate candidates from North Carolina in any quarter” and demonstrating strong small dollar support. Our campaign, by contrast, is mired in a weak position, and frankly just ready for the race to be over. Lobbying looks fun, right?