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View from the Hill

Off to the Races: Tillis and Brannon try proving conservative credentials

This is the first installment of a new semi-regular segment on View from the Hill analyzing the campaign landscape in North Carolina.

Tillis might not have a lock on the Senate nomination

A few weeks ago, N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis released a statement on his Facebook page saying he would support the winner of the Republican Senate primary.

“To do otherwise is to cast a vote for the ultimate opposition and to disadvantage the candidate most closely aligned with my conservative values,” said Tillis in his post.

It was a peculiar statement for someone considered a front runner to make and could be considered by some as a sign of weakness.

But Tillis might be trying to reaffirm his loyalty after having it questioned by some in his base.

Last month, Tillis skipped a candidates forum held by the Lake Norman Conservatives — nearby his hometown of Cornelius. Tillis also missed a Senate candidates’ forum held by the Forsyth County Republican Party.

Meanwhile Public Policy Polling showed Tillis only has support of 20 percent of voters, while Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon and Heather Grant have both 13 percent of the vote. Tillis would need to win by at least 40 percent to win the primary without a runoff.

By skipping candidates forums, Tillis has opened himself up to having his loyalties questioned. The statement is perhaps a way of trying win over conservatives and show he is on their side.

Brannon begins ad blitz

As Tillis has tried to reaffirm his good graces with conservatives, Brannon began to promote campaign advertisements.

Brannon’s campaign released a web page featuring a new campaign ad and asking for people to donate to create a “ad blitz.”

The video begins by saying the American people are “fed up” and shows a picture of Tillis when talking about career politicians, and equating them with “big government” and “a stagnant economy.”

The ad then highlights Brannon’s candidacy, showing him as an anti-abortion doctor, a medical missionary and working at crisis pregnancy centers.

Brannon is shown as someone who not only supports conservative ideas but lives them.

The ad then says Brannon would be an ally of Republican Senators like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, all considered Tea Party favorites.

By mentioning these names and highlighting his record, Brannon is directly speaking to Tea Party primary voters and saying he is on their side.

View from the Hill is a political blog by Daily Tar Heel staff writers. Any opinion expressed in it does not represent the Daily Tar Heel. Email the blog coordinator at

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