May 31, 2019/Press

They gave to Tillis in the past. Now they’re leading his GOP rival’s first fundraiser. [News & Observer]

Raleigh – Republican big money donors are lining up behind Senator Tillis’ wealthy conservative primary challenger Garland Tucker, including “at least 13” donors who have previously donated to Tillis, according to a new report from the News & Observer. The host list for Tucker’s upcoming Raleigh fundraiser includes GOP megadonors like Bob Luddy, who said he “did not know if he would donate to Tillis during the general election,” and a number of current and former elected officials – including Sen. Bob Rucho, who had endorsed Tillis in 2014.

But that’s not all – the News & Observer also reported this new development: “Tillis attended a fundraiser with Vice President Mike Pence in Greensboro last week, but the money went to Trump Victory and not to Tillis.” That means that Senator Tillis attended a fundraiser with Mike Pence and all he got was this headline: “Tillis skipped Senate VA Committee hearing to attend fundraiser in Greensboro.” For a politician who’s “so far underwater, you need a SCUBA tank, not a snorkel” and who “started off the cycle at a slower fundraising clip,” these body blows are starting to add up.

News & Observer: They gave to Tillis in the past. Now they’re leading his GOP rival’s first fundraiser.
By Brian Murphy 
May 30, 2019

Key Points:

  • Steve Zelnak, the former CEO and chairman of the board at Raleigh-based Martin Marietta Materials, donated $5,000 to Sen. Thom Tillis in February. The donations weren’t shocking: He’d given to Tillis in 2014 and 2018.
  • On Wednesday night, however, Zelnak and his wife Judy will serve as chairmen for the first fundraiser for Tillis’ 2020 Republican challenger — Garland Tucker. It costs $5,600 per couple to be listed as a chairman for the event at the Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, according to an invitation obtained by McClatchy.
  • Of the 17 individuals or couples listed as chairmen for the event, at least five have donated to Tillis in the past, according to campaign finance records. Tucker himself donated $2,600 to Tillis in 2014.
  • Bob and Maria Luddy donated $7,800 to Tillis in 2014 during his first run for the U.S. Senate.
  • But the Luddys, too, are listed as chairmen for Tucker’s event. Bob Luddy is the founder and chairman of the Raleigh-based CaptiveAire Systems. Luddy said his dissatisfaction with Tillis comes from the federal government’s spending and increasing debt and deficit.
  • Luddy said he did not know if he would donate to Tillis during the general election. In 2015, Luddy withheld a campaign contribution to NC House Republicans over tax policy and, what he deemed, a ‘liberal’ spending policy.
  • “I supported Tillis, but I’m not going to do it again. We hear some of that,” Wrenn said.
  • Of the 52 individuals or couples listed as chairman ($5,600 per couple giving level), host ($2,000), co-host ($1,000) or sponsor ($500) of the event, at least 13 have donated to Tillis in the past.
  • Tillis attended a fundraiser with Vice President Mike Pence in Greensboro last week, but the money went to Trump Victory and not to Tillis.

Read the full story online here.

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