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Hagan Knows She Has Tough Challenger in Tillis to Retain Her Senate Seat

Conservative policies vs. Obamacare ties could shift the balance in the Senate.

by
John Hinton

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June 9, 2014 - 12:15 am
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) says that her Republican challenger in the November election, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, will be a tough challenger in her re-election bid.

“The stakes are high this year,” Hagan said to a crowd of about 300 Democrats gathered last month at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem.

“My opponent, Speaker Tillis, and his special interest friends have already poured more than $12 million into our state, into this race against me,” Hagan said. “Thom Tillis and his friends are trying to buy this election.”

“They are not part of any community in North Carolina,” she added. “And they don’t care about our values. I want you to help me tell them that our state is not for sale.”

Hagan’s attack on Tillis is the latest salvo in her battle to keep the seat. Jordan Shaw, Tillis’ campaign spokesman, didn’t return repeated requests for comment.

However, Todd Poole, a spokesman for the N.C. Republican Party, criticized Hagan for her comments about Tillis’ campaign.

“Kay Hagan is a hypocrite who practices an absurdly blatant double standard when it comes to third-party spending,” Poole said. “Hagan loves to decry outside groups critiquing her liberal record and pointing out she has voted with President Obama 95 percent of the time during her career.”

“But Hagan has no problem with her liberal allies spending millions in North Carolina to save her failing campaign,” Poole said.

Political observers say that Hagan is vulnerable to Tillis’ candidacy because of her support of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. And the Republicans in the Tar Heel State have won the past two general elections.

State Rep. Paul Luebke is a Durham County Democrat and a sociologist who has written two books on North Carolina politics. Luebke said he expects a close race between Hagan and Tillis in Hagan’s re-election bid.

Some voters are unhappy about the conservative legislation passed last year by the Republican-dominated state legislature, Luebke said.

“There is a widespread feeling that Republicans overreached on a number of issues,” Luebke said. “(Republican legislators) had a lack of commitment to education by ignoring teachers’ concerns, including their salaries. That has led to lot a dissatisfaction. Tillis is tied to the extreme policies of the Republican Party.”

Tillis and his Republican supporters will try to tie Hagan to her support of Obamacare, Luebke said.

“Tillis’ campaign will tag her as an ally of Obama’s botched program,” Luebke said.

But Hagan has portrayed herself as a moderate on issues important to North Carolinians, Luebke said. Her stance appeals to moderates, traditional Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

Luebke said he also expects the contest between Hagan and Tillis to be financially costly.

“It will be an outrageously expensive race,” Luebke said. “North Carolina is a large state with 10 million people. Each side will try to reach voters in lot of the state’s media markets.”

Washington Republicans hope that Hagan’s defeat will hand them a Senate majority this fall.

In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney beat Democratic President Barack Obama in North Carolina while Republican Pat McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, won the governor’s race in the state. In 2010, Republicans won a majority of seats in the N.C. General Assembly. The N.C. GOP maintained that majority in the 2012 election.

Pundits and political operatives say North Carolina, once a red state whose majority of voters helped elect Republicans such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, to the presidency, became a purple state when Obama narrowly defeated Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 2008.

Six years ago, Obama’s coattails helped Hagan defeat Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in her re-election bid. In 2014, Obama’s name is not on any ballots in North Carolina, and Hagan and the N.C. Democratic Party will run a campaign on her record as the state’s second female senator in Washington.

During the May 6 primary, Hagan and Tillis easily won their party’s nominations to run for the Senate seat in the fall election.

Hagan won 77 percent of the vote in the Democratic Party’s primary to beat two lesser-known Democratic candidates, according to state election results. In the Republican primary, Tillis won nearly 46 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff against seven other Republican candidates.

His primary opponents included tea-party backed candidates Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary, N.C., and the Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte.

Hagan and Tillis will be joined by a third candidate on the November ballot. Libertarian Sean Haugh of Durham, N.C., won slightly more than 60 percent of the ballots from registered Libertarian voters in that party’s primary.

The number of registered voters in the state suggests that Hagan might have an advantage over Tillis on Nov. 4. Out of a total of 6.57 million registered voters in the North Carolina, 2.75 million are registered Democrats, 1.99 million are registered Republicans and 1.74 million are unaffiliated voters.

All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Hagan is toast. No Obama at the head of the ticket, no turnout of low info voters means Kay Hagan sleeps with the fishes and is stuck earning millions as a lobbyist. Poor girl!
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
In Montana's senate race, with an appointee as incumbent, even the primary was already a negative ad race between Rep. Daines and Senator Walsh. Within 48 hours of the primary results, we had general campaign ads from both.
Long summer coming up...
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope that North Carolina doesn't become polluted by Northeastern immigrants and their liberal political views, as Virginia has been corrupted.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Too late - we are already infested with them. That's why Obama won the state the first time and almost won the second time.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
They leave one state--often for economic reasons---and transfer the same disastrous liberal economics with them. That's not immigration; it's an infection.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tillis presided over a legislature which, after what seemed like a millennium of Dem rule, made a gay marriage referendum and push for Christianity as the official state religion among its priorities. Because everyone in NC was so concerned about either of those things Hagan is, well, Hagan is among the Dems with the O-care millstone hanging around her neck looking for distance from an administration that reeks of failure. Gee, how can the voters possibly lose with such sterling choices.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
After democrat governor Perdue hooked us up with Common Core, they diverted state funding to other pet projects as the federal government took over funding of the states educational system.

Once the republicans took over, they are just now getting us out of Common Core - but now they have to find the funding that was spread out over the state bureaucracy.

In the meantime, the democrats are raising Cain about the republicans cutting teachers salaries.

It is duplicitous, but that is the way the game is played in NC.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
The candidates backgrounds are as different as their positions on the issues. Kay Ruthven Hagan comes from wealth, privilege and political connections. The Ruthvens are big players in Florida politics. Her mother's brother was former US Senator and Governor Lawton Chiles. The media never talks about that because it doesn't fit the narrative that she's a small business owner turned legislator.

Tillis, who is being labeled the candidate of white male privilege, is from a blue collar family and he didn't finish his college degree until he was 36 years old. Yet by age 50 he had achieved both a partnership in the consulting group at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and become Speaker of the NC House of Representatives. According to the narrative, Tillis had his success handed to him.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
"“There is a widespread feeling that Republicans overreached on a number of issues,” Luebke said. “(Republican legislators) had a lack of commitment to education by ignoring teachers’ concerns, including their salaries."

Interesting what gets highlighted there. Not curriculum, testing, facilities, or even the detestable common core. But salaries.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well they are moving to eliminate Common Core - the only ones I hear whining about it are the leftists.

The average parent, on the other hand, detests is almost universally.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Those extreme Republican policies enacted in Raleigh are so unpopular that my state senator has no Democrat opponent in November's election in a district the Democrats owned for decades. The SIEU affiliate that represents state employers just spent a small fortune trying to beat him with a more liberal Republican primary opponent, to no avail.

There has been a lot of noise in letters to the editor in the newspapers in Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, the People's Republic of Asheville etc. How much of it is real and how much is astroturf is an open question. As with states that elect Republicans, the state's economy and the business climate has improved and voters are starting to notice.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't even bother reading the local News and Observer out of Raleigh - they constantly publish letters to the editor from the same tired old voices over and over again as if the newspaper were their personal megaphone for leftist causes.

Local news stations aren't much better.

The republicans have a window of opportunity right now to get the economy rolling again in this state.

While they are trying to fix the government so it is somewhat functional again and get businesses moving towards prosperity, the democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) will stop at nothing to paint the republicans in a bad light.

The best hope for the republicans is to get the economy going in such a way that the average citizens feels it in the wallet.

At that point, after so long in the economic doldrums, there will be a certain cognitive dissonance between what the media are trying to get people to think and what the citizenry sees regarding its own best interests.

If the republicans can reach that threshold, then the democrats are toast come November.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
yes, once the pendulum returns to somewhere close to normal. The new majority's first act seemed a referendum on marriage as if that was the issue gripping the state. And it was followed up by a push for an official state religion. You'd think getting out from under a hundred years of Dem majorities would have convinced Repubs that a bit less govt would be a nice change, rather than a different strain of bureaucratic control.

That said, I did have a nice laugh at the woman in Asheville yesterday seeking names for a petition to put a primary loser - a moderate Repub - on the ballot to have another go at the "extremist tea party" candidate. When I asked what the problem was, she had no coherent answer.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
My God! All Tillis has to do is read the list of major failures/lies made by obama and say that Hagan was with him 100%. If the people of NC cannot understand that then they are hopeless. Hagan has to be tied to obama in every commercial that Tillis runs and in every speech that he gives.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you backed the lawless, Constitution shredding, assault on citizens, Judeo-Christian religion, and every scandal and its coverup...there is no way to defend that to any honorable person.

You backed the overthrow of America. You don't deserve to represent honorable people. Period. End of report.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I assume you are talking about Hagan?
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
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