Turning up the heat in the U.S. Senate primary, Republican Greg Brannon said a “culture of corruption” would make N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis “unelectable” in November.
“The Democrat attack machine will make easy pickings of his candidacy,” Brannon wrote in a new fund-raising letter.
Brannon hit Tillis on several points, including his 2012 decision to give severance pay to two staffers involved in sex scandals.
The attacks are among the sharpest yet in a Republican contest to pick a challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
Eight Republicans are running in the May 6 primary. But Brannon, more than any of his rival, has tried to make it a two-man race with Tillis, a former Cornelius businessman who has led in fund-raising and in most polls. - Charlotte Observer, 3/17/14
Ok, now here is why that's laughable:
U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon must pay two investors in his failed startup company more than $450,000, according to a final judgment entered Tuesday.
The judgment follows a Wake County jury verdict Feb. 18 finding Brannon bore sole responsibility for giving misleading or false information in 2010 to investors regarding a mobile application being developed by Neogence Enterprises, a now-defunct tech company he helped start. A co-defendant, one-time CEO Robert Rice, was cleared of wrongdoing.
Brannon must pay back the $250,000 the investors – Larry Piazza of Maine and Sam Lampuri of Raleigh – put into the company based on his statements about a potential deal between Neogence and mobile giant Verizon. He is also responsible for 8 percent interest, attorneys fees and court costs, the order states.
Piazza invested $150,000 in the company based on Brannon’s statements. He will also receive $45,000 in interest.
Lampuri will get back the $100,000 he put into Neogence and $27,333 in interest.
The investors’ attorneys fees totaled $123,804 and other court costs were $8,493.79, according to the order from Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins. The investors were represented by Steve Epstein of Poyner Spruill in Raleigh.
The total Brannon owes is more than $454,631. - Charlotte Observer, 3/13/14
But while Brannon may seem like a joke candidate, the GOP isn't laughing:
In November Brannon said Planned Parenthood had a secret plan to kill newborn babies. He also once compared food stamps to slavery and reportedly helped sponsor and speak at a rally supporting nullification. During the campaign Brannon also admitted to reviewing parts of his campaign website which appeared to have been plagiarized from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (Brannon styles himself as a sort of heir apparent of Paul's).
Here's the kicker: Brannon is increasingly looking like a candidate that could snatch the GOP nomination away from House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-NC), the establishment candidate that's long been presumed to be the de facto nominee in the race.
Earlier in the week, a Public Policy Polling survey found Tillis tied with Brannon in the GOP primary. The poll found Tillis and Brannon with 14 percent support each followed by nurse practitioner Heather Grant with 11 percent. None of the other Republican candidates in the race that were also included in the poll of the primary earned single digits.
That's a big leap for Brannon who came in as a fringe tea party candidate. The day the poll was released Brannon sent out a fundraising email titled "Tied for the Lead."
"This is a testament to the hard work of our grassroots team across the state," Brannon said in the fundraising email.
Brannon has also been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), FreedomWorks, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). So here is a Republican primary candidate who's been endorsed by powerful tea party favorites, is on the rise in polling, and has a nice list of knocks against him that Democrats will quickly exploit in a general matchup. In other words, Brannon is the kind of candidate national Republicans worry could lose a winnable Senate seat.
Observers say Tillis is vulnerable and Brannon has appeal among hard-right Republican voters that will make up a big chunk of the GOP voting primary electorate in this race.
"I think a lot of people have been waiting and expecting the Republican Party to coalesce around Thom Tillis and it hasn't happened and the real question is is it gonna happen?" said Democratic strategist Morgan Jackson.
Jackson said the reality of this primary is that it's going to be a "low turnout primary, that it's going to be a very conservative primary."
And if Brannon does win the nomination, Republicans could easily have another Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) situation on their hands.
"This could very easily be Missouri all over again," Jackson said. - TPM, 3/14/14
Don't get me wrong, Brannon is awful but Tillis would also be terrible to have in the U.S. Senate:
To give a little background -- the Thom Tillis office reeks of lobbying money. In 2012, an investigation revealed that Tillis' chief of staff Charles Thomas was having an affair with a lobbyist from the North Carolina Home Builders Association. Tillis, who roomed with Thomas at the time, alleges to have been unaware of the relationship (in which both parties were married to other people). Maybe that's what the speaker means by "defending the institution of the traditional family." Thomas resigned upon being presented with photographs, videos, and eyewitness accounts confirming the affair.
So at least that was cleared up. Oh, wait!
Five days later another Tillis staffer admitted to engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist who represented several clients in the state legislature. Amy Hobbs, a policy analyst (herself a former lobbyist), had been getting cozy with lobbyist boo Dean Plunkett, whose contracts quickly began drying up when Hobbs resigned. Luckily for the two ex-staffers, though, Tillis handed over more than $19,000 in severance pay because what's an extramarital affair if it's not funded by taxpayers?
This staff line-up was supposedly God's gift to the world one year earlier. Upon winning the speakership in 2011, Tillis gathered these individuals in his office and claimed that his staff budget would be 17 percent lower than that of the Democrat who preceded him. A praise-worthy campaign promise, yes, but by June of the same year Tillis gave Thomas a raise of $30K and Hobbs a raise of $12K, not to mention the 27 percent salary increase given to general counsel Jason Kay.
It's convenient, too, that after Tillis made it rain in the General Assembly he could suddenly afford to donate $250K to his own Senate campaign. (That's how they "raised $1M" so quickly.) One day the revolving door will pay for its own lubrication. Tillis is just doing the best he can to make sure that day is tomorrow. But it helps having friends.
That's why when Tillis can't be found in the state legislature, the assumed status of the Absentee Representative from Mecklenburg, he's probably fundraising with the political players in Washington, D.C. For instance, the speaker disappeared during a vital week of debate in 2013 as the GA issued a resolution supporting the constitutional right to bear arms, which an astounding 32 percent of present legislators voted to reject, and considered sweeping simplifications and reductions to the North Carolina tax code. He did the same thing a few weeks later. It turns out Tillis was sipping bubbly with K Street on Capitol Hill. At $1,000 per person and $2,500 per PAC, I sure hope they get their money's worth in connections -- because his constituents sure aren't.
At the end of the day he still hasn't found any worthwhile supporters, either. Endorsements from people like Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and Mitch McConnell aren't much to brag about these days. Rove's Super PAC spent $103M with barely anything to show for it. McConnell fundraised for Senator Paul's primary challenger in 2010, too, and we see how that worked out.
Let's face it -- establishment Republicans' influence is waning. - Huffington Post, 3/13/14
So it's no wonder why Republican voters are having a hard time figuring out who would be the best candidate to defeat Hagan:
As the conversation begins about which candidate can lead the party, most Republican voters are focused on three challengers: Tillis, Brannon and Charlotte pastor Mark Harris.
So far the differences among them are more stylistic.
Tillis is taking more moderate stances on issues and touting his record of accomplishment in the state legislature. Brannon is reaching for conservatives who identify with the tea party, talking about a return to limited constitutional powers. Harris is trying to find a middle ground, though he is emphasizing values, which appeals to his base in the evangelical community.
Without mentioning the government shutdown, Republican voters are still split on the question of compromise when it comes to Washington’s partisanship.
“I’m looking for the candidate that is willing to compromise when it’s for the greater good,” said Harnett County GOP Chairwoman Maggie Sandrock, who must remain neutral in the race. “You can follow your base only so much. We have to move forward; we can’t keep doing this.”
Standing near Sandrock at the recent Harnett County GOP convention in Lillington, Gorgon Springle echoed the sentiment.
“We need a candidate who is not so far to the right that he can’t talk to liberals,” said Springle, a 68-year-old retiree and county commissioner who is leaning toward Tillis. “What I’ve seen in the legislature and in Washington, people have stuck to their beliefs so much that they can’t see what’s best for their country.”
Others in the room took a different lesson from what they see on Capitol Hill. Joey Powell, a 54-year-old teacher from Erwin, considers himself a “no-compromise voter.” He’s undecided in the race
“We just need (a candidate) to stand firm and take our country back for our values,” he said. “I believe in the history of our Founding Fathers, and many of us believe we’ve strayed too far from it.”
Later that day, two hours east in Greenville, the Pitt County Republican Party opened its convention with a prayer to God to “return the country to you” and “run campaigns that will glorify you.”
The candidates are trying to win voters in the rural regions of Eastern North Carolina where Democrats still outnumber Republicans but all trend conservative. - News Observer, 3/17/14
Whoever wins the primary will be getting the funding from Art Pope and the Koch Brothers but it's looking Tillis and Brannon could be a waste of an investment. In the mean time, Hagan is focusing on looking after her constituents:
Senators Kay Hagan and Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve disaster assistance for small pork producers affected by a deadly virus that is hitting pig farms across the country.
The Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) has killed more than 4 million pigs nationwide since April 2013 with significant implications for the agricultural economy.
The 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law last month, permanently extends critical livestock disaster assistance programs that could help producers in North Carolina, Michigan and 24 other states cope with the virus and manage the spread of the disease.
“Pork producers that have been impacted by PEDv face economic devastation, these producers are finally experiencing periods of higher margins after prolonged periods of razor thin profits. If this disease persists, pork herds will continue to diminish and producers risk going out of business,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Secretary Vilsack.
Additionally, the Senators asked the USDA to increase research for a vaccine and other interventions to address PEDv, for which no vaccine or treatment currently exists. - Agri-View, 3/16/14
If you would like to get involved or donate to Hagan's re-election bid, you can do so here:
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