Sen. Thom Tillis is coming to the end of his first term in Washington, DC, and it looks like he’s about to blow it.
Remember that after coasting his way from the Cornelius Town Council to the NC House, where he became speaker in 2011, Tillis won his Senate seat from Kay Hagan in 2014 by just 1.6 points.
It turns out a guy can get pretty far by properly filling a suit, occasionally toeing the party line and otherwise keeping his mouth shut.
But the game has changed since Tillis yes-sirred his way to Capitol Hill. And with no real ideological underpinning other than the cause of furthering his own career, he’s getting himself spun.
Tillis has always been all over the map in terms of words vs. deeds, but this year has been a banner one. In February, remember, he penned an op-ed for the Washington Post pledging to vote against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in regards to immigration at the southern border. Not three weeks later, he voted in favor of the emergency declaration, telling the same paper that ran his editorial: “A lot has changed in the last three weeks.”
In April he co-sponsored a bill that would protect Special Investigator Robert Mueller from presidential interference. And just this week he offered protection to Attorney General Robert Barr, who faces a vote next week whether Congress will hold him in contempt.
But it was too late for mad political thrashings. By May 6, Tillis had already attracted a primary challenger, Garland Tucker, a Raleigh businessman and author of conservative books who is not letting a complete lack of government experience stop him from setting his sights on the US Senate.
Though Tucker has not yet filed a campaign-finance report, the News & Observer reported that he’s luring away some of Tillis’ big donors. And former Jesse Helms advisor Carter Wrenn, one of the more powerful GOP operatives in North Carolina, is running his campaign.
And this has got to be driving Tillis mad. Both Tucker and Wrenn have made anti-Trump statements in the past, curated lovingly in a hit piece by the Washington Examiner, and yet Tucker is running as the pro-Trump candidate.
And anyone who can out flip-flop Thom Tillis has a real future in politics.