Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., called for Republicans to reach across the aisle to work toward meaningful solutions rather than mistakenly assuming there was a conservative mandate, in an op-ed in The Charlotte Observer last week.
“Let’s be clear: the American people didn’t give the GOP a stamp of approval or a mandate to ram through an ideologically driven, far-right agenda," Tillis said. "If the election was a mandate for anything, it was for elected officials in both parties to break through the gridlock to finally start producing results.”
David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College, said Tillis made a smart decision to try and position himself as a moderate at a time of intense ideological conflict.
He said President Donald Trump is not a traditional Republican, and Tillis might be able to act as a broker between the president and the more conservative members of Congress.
Ferrel Guillory, a UNC journalism professor, said Tillis was correct that Republicans did not win a mandate in the traditional sense.
A mandate comes from a large, almost overwhelming majority vote, Guillory said — and Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
Rob Schofield, director of policy and research for North Carolina Policy Watch, a progressive public policy think tank, said he is not fully convinced Sen. Tillis will adhere to the statements he made in his op-ed.
Schofield said Tillis, while speaker of the state House of Representatives, was a strong force for pushing a conservative agenda and was instrumental in limiting legislative debate in order to move bills to a vote.
“He made his name with a sort of take-no-prisoners approach to governance,” Schofield said.