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Gov. Pat McCrory holds his first news conference Monday, January 7, 2013, in Raleigh, North Carolina. In one of his first acts as governor, McCrory issued an executive order to repeal the nonpartisan judicial nominating commission established by Perdue. (Takaaki Iwabu/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Of course Art Pope's puppet would help his loyal foot soldier:

Gov. Pat McCrory waded into North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary Thursday, saying Thom Tillis has the best shot to beat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November.

“I think Tillis has the best chance to win a general election,” McCrory told the Washington Post during a visit to the capital.

“From a political perspective, there’s no doubt in my mind that Tillis has the best chance to win in the general election. I think you can see that in the attacks from D.C. going after Tillis.”

The governor has not officially endorsed any of the eight Republican candidates. But Thursday’s remarks came close, and appear to signal his own support of his fellow Mecklenburg County Republican.

McCrory’s remarks came less than five weeks before the May 6 primary in a race where polls show a third of voters still undecided. - Charlotte Observer, 4/3/14

What I like is Tea Party candidate, Dr. Greg Brannon (R. NC), making the case that Tillis is the real Todd Akin (R. MO) in this race:

Brannon spokesman Reilly O’Neill said contrary to what McCrory suggested, that doesn’t mean Tillis is the most electable.

“Basing electability on which candidate is attacked most is foolish,” he said. “The same strategy of using attacks to boost the weakest general election opponent was successfully used by (Democratic Sen.) Claire McCaskill against Todd Akin in Missouri. And we all know how that turned out.” - Charlotte Observer, 4/3/14

That's funny.  Now we can debate how much Tillis is like Akin but he's cut from same cloth as McCrory, a stooge politician on the take from outside forces:

Tillis’ campaign received about $21,000 from 15 registered state lobbyists in 2013, according to a News & Observer analysis of campaign finance records – donations he couldn’t accept as a state lawmaker.

North Carolina prohibits registered lobbyists from giving money to state candidates under an ethics law designed to limit the clout of special interests. But as a federal candidate, Tillis can accept the checks, even as lobbyists seek influence ahead of the legislative session May 14, a week after the Republican primary.

The lobbyists represent dozens of interests as varied as a pharmaceutical company, sustainable energy association,, cable television companies and the Autism Society.

“Some of them are people who agree with him politically and other people … may be people who want their phone call returned from the speaker’s office,” said Jane Pinsky, director of the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform.

The second largest contributor to his campaign is EUE/Screen Gems, a movie studio company in Wilmington with credits that include “Iron Man 3,” HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” and CBS’ “Under the Dome.”

The studio is lobbying state lawmakers to extend the controversial film incentive program that awarded $77 million in tax credits to production companies in 2012.

Four members of the Cooney family, which runs EUE/Screen Gems, gave Tillis’ campaign a combined $20,800, citing the state tax issue as a factor.

“Every voter and every business has the opportunity to contribute to candidates who share their values,” Chris Cooney, the chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We are working to keep 4,000 film jobs in North Carolina right now. Our contributions go to candidates who share that same pro-job focus.”

Tillis has supported extending the film tax break but others in his Republican caucus oppose it.

Other Tillis campaign donors overlap with legislative matters – and a separate super PAC supporting his bid.

Two Tillis allies that he supported for election to the UNC Board of Governors donated to his super PAC in 2013 and later gave to the campaign.

George Sywassink and his wife, who live in Hilton Head, S.C., gave a combined $10,400 to Tillis’ campaign on Nov. 7. R. Doyle Parrish and his wife, who live in Raleigh, gave $7,800 on Nov. 20, according to federal campaign finance records.

In a list circulated to lawmakers, Tillis urged GOP lawmakers to support both men in the March 2013 vote, despite concerns about Sywassink living out of state and Parrish being a registered Democrat. Tillis told his colleagues that he supported Doyle in part because he donated big money to his campaign in recent years.

Three months after the BOG appointment, Sywassink gave $25,000 to Grow NC Strong, a super PAC supporting Tillis’ Senate bid, records show. Parrish gave $20,000.

The super PAC’s treasurer, Cindy Marrelli-Watko, also wrote checks to both committees, donating $5,200 to Tillis’ campaign in November. Marrelli-Watko had previously given the super PAC $10,000.

Another Board of Governors appointee supported by Tillis, W.G. Champion Mitchell, gave the campaign $2,600 in June and donated an additional $25,000 to the super PAC the same month.

Altogether, the four families have contributed at least $106,000 to get Tillis elected, an analysis shows. - News Observer, 4/3/14

And of course Karl Rove is pushing to make sure Tillis wins his primary:

The Rove-founded American Crossroads is up with a $1 million ad buy for North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis, the GOP establishment favorite who is embroiled in a tough primary to take on Dem Senator Kay Hagan. The ad doesn’t use the word “repeal,” instead claiming Tillis has “the conservative guts to replace Obamacare with honest health care reforms”:

Interestingly, to back up the claim that Tillis would replace Obamacare with honest health care reform ideas, the Crossroads ad cites an interview that Tillis gave in February that got him attacked from the right. In that interview, Tillis claimed that “Obamacare is a great idea that can’t be paid for” and said that the alternative to the law introduced by Senator Richard Burr is a “good road map.” That plan purports to offer the good things in Obamacare — expanded coverage and protections — without the trade-offs of Obamacare, which can’t really be done in the real world.

Tillis has so far refrained from endorsing the Burr plan. And similarly, in interviews, he has claimed that of course he would replace Obamacare with something that would protect people with preexisting conditions and others who need protection, without specifying what that replacement would be. Republicans appear increasingly aware that they can’t be just for repeal, and have to promise replacements that would accomplishment some of what Obamacare accomplishes. Indeed, none other than Crossroads founder Karl Rove has warned that repeal alone is a loser. - Washington Post, 4/1/14

By the way, the Crossroads ad also hits Hagan on opposing voter ID laws and praises Tillis' for getting it passed:

American Crossroads is going on the air in North Carolina with this new ad against Sen. Kay Hagan. (It boosts her chief rival, Thom Tillis, who is trying to fend off a challenge from Rand Paul-backed doctor Greg Brannon.) The ad refers twice to voting reform passed in the Tillis-run House of Representatives. We learn that Hagan opposed it ...
... and that Tillis will defend it.
Now, it's perfectly accurate to refer to the law in question as "the voter ID law." But the law does more than require ID at the polls. It shortens the early-voting period from 17 to 10 days; it ends the ability of a voter who shows up at the wrong precinct to cast a provisional ballot; it ends same-day registration. The ad points out that Hagan wrote a letter to Eric Holder asking the DOJ to challenge the law, and she did, though voter ID was only one of her points of contention.
This fits into a pattern. Since last year, when Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law, he and the rest of the Republicans in the state have called the law "commonsense" (this polls well) and talked almost exclusively about the voter ID components. In one particularly slippery video, McCrory attacked the "politics" behind the law's critics, mentioning nothing about the new law apart from the ID standard. - Slate, 4/1/14
Yeah, pretty sleazy.  Brannon has been hitting both Tillis and Crossroads:

North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon's (R) campaign is attacking North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-NC) Senate campaign over a new ad by American Crossroads in support of the state House Speaker, establishment Republicans' preferred candidate in the race.

The narrator in the ad said Tillis has the "conservative guts" to replace Obamacare with "honest healthcare reforms." The ad however does not say Tillis wants to repeal Obamacare and that's where the Brannon campaign pounced.

"You’ll notice it makes no mention of repealing Obamacare which would take real guts and surprisingly it even references the same radio interview in which Thom says Obamacare is a great idea that can’t be paid for," Brannon campaign manager Reilly O'Neal told The Plum Line's Greg Sargent. "What I’m not at all surprised to see is an ad touting his conservative credentials launch on April 1st of all days. Seems fitting." - TPM, 4/1/14

Tillis' other primary opponent, Rev. Mark Harris (R. NC), has also been hitting Tillis on this:

Brannon says Rove’s American Crossroads, which is prepared to spend money to boost Tillis’ prospects, is out to “CRUSH the tea party.” In the same campaign email, he calls Rove an “establishment kingpin.”

It’s an accurate description. And any GOP candidate who hopes to beat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will need the help of Rove or some other establishment kingpin.

Tillis’ other biggest rival in the race, Charlotte pastor Mark Harris, has started pushing the same the message.

His campaign consultant, Tom Perdue, recently called Tillis “nothing more than a typical Democrat.” A push poll conducted by the Harris campaign, asking if voters would be more or less inclined to vote for Tillis based on certain statements, included reminders about a sex scandal involving a Tillis’ staff member and a reference to him raising money from “homosexual activists.”

Perdue apparently is a bit removed from the “typical Democrat.”

Not too many typical Democrats allow abortion restrictions, private school vouchers, and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage  - The Daily Reflector, 4/3/14

I'm interested to see if Harris will make any gains soon in the priamry.  He has a key core of the GOP base:

FILE - In this March 14, 2014 file photo, Rev. Mark Harris, right, who is seeking a Republican U.S. Senate nomination in the upcoming North Carolina primary, shakes hands with supporter Bobby Craig, left, and his wife Taylor Craig, center, during a campai
The Rev. Mark Harris says he's the only one in the U.S. Senate Republican primary field that can unite the three streams of the GOP in North Carolina and ultimately put Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on the political ropes heading to November.
"I wholeheartedly believe that I am the bridge candidate in this race," Harris told a small gathering listening to the Charlotte pastor at Acorn Ridge Baptist Church in Moore County one recent afternoon. "We're going to draw from the tea party. We're going to draw from the establishment—the business community. And we're going to draw from the evangelicals."

But it's clear the 25-year Southern Baptist minister from Charlotte won't reach any runoff in the eight-candidate May 6 primary, let alone win it outright, unless he gets to the polls enough like-minded people disturbed about the country's direction on gay marriage, abortion and what they consider Christianity's removal from the public square.

Political liberals are "trying to replace the foundation that this country was founded on, and that is the Bible," said Dwight Creech, principal of Calvary Christian School in Southern Pines and a Harris supporter.

Harris, who turns 48 in April, has a strong connection to this part of the electorate. The former Baptist State Convention president successfully energized social conservatives two years ago to approve an amendment to North Carolina's constitution affirming the state's ban on gay marriage.

"Christian conservatives have to get out of the pews," said Kevin Shinault, 56, of Pilot Mountain, one of more than 150 people attending a Harris rally and volunteer meeting in the parking lot of a north Raleigh hotel. Shinault is a social conservative and tea party member.

The evening's big draw, wasn't Harris, but the Duggars, whose cable reality TV show "19 Kids and Counting" and vocal commitment to faith make them heroes within the Christian conservative movement. Harris highlights the Duggars, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, also a Baptist minister, among his endorsements.

Seventeen of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's children joined their parents for the rally, with the kids entertaining the crowd with gospel singing and music. After women waited in line to get their Bibles autographed by Michelle Duggar, Harris got up and gave an abbreviated campaign pitch filled with references to Ronald Reagan, whom Harris said he volunteered for as a teenager in Winston-Salem. - AP, 3/22/14

But Harris better make a dent soon because right now it's still looking like a Tilis vs. Brannon fight:

Five U.S. Senate candidates worked the crowd of 500-plus at the Wake County Republican Party convention Monday evening and Greg Brannon emerged with a win in the straw poll.

The tea party candidate took 45 percent to Tillis’ 33 percent, according to the party. Brannon’s campaign blasted the results to supporters in the final hours of the year’s first fundraising quarter.

The poll is a weak barometer of the May 6 Republican primary but follows a pattern of straw poll victories for Brannon that show energy among activists for his ideological vision, which is further to the right than many in the party.

Wake County is home to the most Republicans in the state and a key area of focus, particularly for Brannon, who lives in Cary, and Tillis, who is well known from his role as House speaker.

Heather Grant, Ted Alexander and Jim Snyder also attended the convention in Raleigh. but received 2 percent or less of the straw poll vote. Mark Harris did not attend but took 20 percent.

Among the party faithful Brannon and Tillis received much of the attention. - News Observer, 4/1/14

Not to mention Brannon has also been hitting Tillis not only on his big money backers but also their stances:

The House speaker is attending a fundraiser Wednesday at the offices of a Washington lobbying firm that will net him plenty of big checks but also may offer his rivals a political line of attack.

The firm? Barbour Griffith & Rogers Inc., otherwise known as the BGR Group. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour took flak for his firm, as critics linked him to its many clients. One particular client drew attention: the Mexican government. In 2001-2002, the firm lobbied “on immigration reforms sought by the Bush administration to provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and expand a temporary worker program to allow immigrants to work in the U.S,” according to an Associated Press report.

Tillis’ fundraiser at the firm plays into the hands of Republican primary opponents Greg Brannon and Mark Harris, who are trying to paint Tillis as an insider with ties to special interests. (Democrats are doing the same.)

Brannon also has criticized Tillis on immigration, writing earlier this year in a Facebook post: “If Republicans want to re-take control of the US Senate we cannot nominate a candidate who will go along with the DC establishment and push through amnesty. My primary opponent has supported efforts to allow illegal immigrants to skirt immigration laws. We must have respect for the rule of law. I will never vote for amnesty.”

Brannon did not offer specifics to support his claim. But legislation to crackdown on illegal immigration in recent years failed in the N.C. House under Tillis’ control. Gov. Pat McCrory also vetoed a bill – later overridden in the House and Senate – that expanded the exemption of seasonal workers from the immigration status check program called E-Verify. - News Observer, 4/2/14

And believe it or not, this might help Tillis in the primary:

His last name is last alphabetically among eight Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, but "Thom Tillis" will appear first on GOP primary ballots across North Carolina in 2014, a position some studies show will give him a slight advantage.

Tillis' name won't be first on May 6 ballots because he leads in the polls or because his name was picked out of a hat. His name will be there because of a policy adopted by the State Board of Elections more than a decade ago that determines ballot order for primaries.

Put simply, the ballot order, based on candidates' last names, switches back and forth on two-year cycles between alphabetical order and reverse alphabetical order, starting with a different letter each year. Confused?

More specifically, in 2002 and 2003, names were placed on primary ballots in reverse alphabetical order, starting with "z" and ending with "a." In 2004 and 2005, names went on ballots alphabetically, starting with "b" and ending in "a." For 2006 and 2007, the order was reverse alphabetical order, staring with "y" and ending with "z." In 2008 and 2009, it was back to alphabetical, starting with "c" and ending with "b." Using the same pattern, this year's order starts with "w" and goes in reverse back to "x." That puts Tillis at the top, followed by fellow GOP hopefuls Jim Snyder, Edward Kryn, Mark Harris, Heather Grant, Alex Lee Bradshaw, Greg Brannon and Ted Alexander.

"If (Tillis) had done this (run for Senate) two years ago or two years from now, it would be different," said Brooks Garrett-Jones, an elections technician at the State Board of Elections.

Bradshaw appears before Brannon because last names that start with the same letter are put on the ballot in regular alphabetical order.

Political scientists have long debated the ballot order topic, and much research has been done on its effects, sometimes with conflicting results. But many experts believe being first brings minor benefits. "You would rather be first than not, but you better not count on being first to deliver victory," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Sabato said there's no way to put a percentage on the ballot order’s impact in any particular race. In general, he said, being first may be worth "a percent or two or less.” Ballot order may have a greater impact on primaries because primary voters naturally assume they agree with most candidates on most issues, Sabato said. "Since some people voting might not care terribly about who the nominee is, it could increase the percentage of the people choosing the first candidate," he said.

But Sabato also said ballot order effects may shrink in high-visibility races, such as presidential or U.S. Senate contests, because candidates tend to be more well-known and voters have made their choice before entering the voting booth. - News Observer, 3/31/14

So we shall see.  Meanwhile, Hagan and Democrats keep on calling out Tillis nad GOP's big sugar daddy:

Doubling down on their strategy of attacking the Koch brothers, Democrats are launching a new campaign to tie Rep. Paul Ryan's budget to the billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee alleges that the "Koch Budget," as the campaign arm of Senate Democrats is calling it, will hurt the middle class while helping rich people like the Kochs. The DSCC vows to go after not just the budget, which was released Tuesday, but also Republicans who support a plan "bought and paid for by their billionaire backers."

The DSCC's new campaign will provide "highly localized data" to voters and the media on the impact of House GOP's new budget, with a focus on women, seniors, students, and middle-class families.

"The GOP's 'Koch Budget' helps special-interest billionaires while hurting middle-class families, and Republican Senate candidates up and down the map will pay a price for putting the Koch Brothers' best interests ahead of their states," said Justin Barasky, a spokesman for the DSCC. - National Journal, 4/1/14

And here's another strategy Hagan's people are using:

In 1980, David Koch ran in and funded a presidential campaign that called Social Security “The Ultimate Pyramid Scheme” and promised to abolish and replace it.

In 2014, Democrats are hoping to use that fact to tar the Republicans he and his brother Charles are bankrolling in 2014. Welcome to the next phase of the Democrats’ anti-Koch strategy this year: Treat the Kochs like a candidate for office and try to make Republicans answer for the Kochs’ libertarian ideology.

Democrats have already painted the Kochs as a shadowy pair pouring millions into the political process for their own ends. In recent months Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made almost a daily point of invoking their names, calling them “moles” Tuesday, for instance. In North Carolina, supporters of Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan — a top target for Koch largesse — say Republicans benefitting from Koch spending need to say whether or not they agree with statements like the one about Social Security in 1980.

David Koch didn’t actually write the book that called for the abolition of Social Security, but he was the main driver of the presidential campaign that pushed for it in 1980. Koch ran as vice president on the Libertarian ticket helmed by Ed Clark, but according to a 1980 New York magazine report on the race was selected by Libertarian party leaders as VP candidate before Clark was selected to run for president, mostly because of his ability to give their campaign effort more money than it had ever seen before.

“They liked me, I guess,” Koch told New York. “But obviously, my ability to give unrestricted funds was a major consideration.”

In the end, Koch spent more than $2 million on campaign. Enough, Hagan supporters say, to make him responsible for the campaign’s message.

And so, using a copy of Clark’s 1980 campaign book A New Beginning as a jump-off point, Hagan’s supporters are beginning to vet Koch as a candidate for office, shopping around the kind of opposition research campaigns usually send out on their opponents, not the people running ad campaigns.

The book explicitly calls for the abolition of Social Security as well as calling it a pyramid scheme. - BuzzFeed, 4/1/14

So lets help fuel Hagan's campaign so she can fight back against Tillis, Pope, McCrory, Rove and the Koch Brothers.  Click here to donate and get involved with her campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 08:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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