November 12, 2019/Press

NEW REPORT: 2020 Election is “A Very Touchy Situation for Tillis” as Grassroots Republicans Continue to Trash Him as “Wishy-Washy”

Raleigh – Senator Tillis continues to have trust problems with grassroots conservatives across North Carolina, with yet another Republican voter criticizing him as “wishy-washy,” according to a new report from the Associated Press.

The comment echoes similar comments from North Carolina conservatives disparaging Tillis:

  • “Don’t like him”
  • “I won’t be voting for him”
  • “He flip-flopped on a number of issues at the last second to save his own butt to keep from getting voted out”
  • “He’s wishy-washy”
  • “He’s a fair-weather friend”
  • “A snake don’t turn into a puppy just because he puts a flea collar on.”

In addition to Tillis’ troubles with his own “skeptical” base, the report reveals why Senator Tillis is one of the most vulnerable senators in the country: North Carolina “has grown more Latino, college-educated and younger”; Tillis “aligning himself too closely with Trump hurts him with moderate and independent voters”; Democrats have had recent successes in-state; and “a suburban revolt against Trump’s version of the Republican Party is growing.”

Associated Press: N Carolina senator has latched on to Trump. Will he hold on?
By Gary D. Robertson
November 9, 2019

Key Points:

  • Sen. Thom Tillis is following a simple formula for reelection in closely divided North Carolina: Stand with Donald Trump.
  • That may have immediate political benefit as he fends off a March primary challenge from a substantially self-funded candidate. But it also comes with general election risks in North Carolina, where, as in other states, fast-growing cities and suburbs have flashed warning signs for the GOP. Democratic wins Tuesday in Virginia, Kentucky and several cities suggest a suburban revolt against Trump’s version of the Republican Party is growing.
  • “He needs the Trump support to have a shot in the general election, but on the other hand aligning himself too closely with Trump hurts him with moderate and independent voters,” Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said.
  • The 2020 election, McLennan added, “is a very touchy situation for Tillis to be in.”
  • Tillis is in the small Republican group targeted by Democrats in their push to flip four seats and seize Senate control.
  • Obama won the state in 2008 but it returned to Republicans four years later. Trump won it by 4 percentage points in 2016 while voters narrowly elected a Democratic governor. Democrats made statehouse gains in 2018 and almost won a Republican-leaning congressional district in September.
  • The state has grown more Latino, college-educated and younger, forces that could benefit Democrats, who still have the most registered voters.
  • Meanwhile, unaffiliated — or independent — voters have surged and now outnumber Republicans.
  • His early campaign ads feature Trump calling Tillis a “warrior” and praising other Tillis legislation about so-called “sanctuary cities.” The ads are aimed at the conservative base, which is at times skeptical of Tillis.
  • Republican primary challenger Garland Tucker, a former investment firm CEO, has seized on immigration — and his $1.1 million in personal loans — to fuel his campaign. Tucker says Tillis hasn’t lived up to promises to control spending and secure the border.
  • Conservatives uneasy with Tillis cite his brief opposition to Trump’s plan to divert military spending for his U.S.-Mexico wall. In February, Tillis cited “grave concerns” about executive overreach. He later reversed himself and voted for the plan.
  • While many Republicans support Tillis, the episode left a mark.
  • “I don’t like Thom Tillis, he’s wishy-washy,” said Diane Ezzell of Marshville, before entering a September rally featuring Trump in Fayetteville, where scattered boos greeted Tillis. “We’ll vote for a conservative, but it probably won’t be him.”