This is the fifth in a series of profiles on the 2014 U.S. Senate Candidates on View from the Hill. Links to previous profiles are at the end of this post.
Dr. Greg Brannon might not have ever held elected office, but he has become one of the strongest candidates in the Republican Senate primary race by channeling support of the Tea Party movement.
Brannon, who did not respond to numerous requests for an interview, also has the support of many national figures in the Tea Party movement, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
Brannon is an OB/GYN who runs his own practice in Cary. Paul, another physician, said his profession would help him as a senator.
"I think that what we need is somebody who will look at the problems and diagnose them, think about the problems," Paul said in February, at the Conservative Political Action Conference where he introduced Brannon.
Brannon has also been supported by Freedomworks, a Tea Party-affiliated organization that has been one of the more prominent independent expenditure groups in the state.
"When I hear about, how can you get the youth involved, you do what those men did — tell the truth," Brannon said at CPAC, in reference to Paul, Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
But Brannon has been seen as one of the more extreme candidates in the race.
In a 2013 interview with a Tea Party channel, Brannon said food stamps enslaves people and said on a 2012 radio Q&A that Medicaid and Medicare should be eliminated.
Brannon has made attempts to reach out to younger voters through hosting a video contest to encourage college students to show their campaigning efforts on campus.
On his website, it says that young people face higher deficits and debt, surveillance on their internet and technology habits, and that the Affordable Care Act has led to more taxes and makes young people pay more for sicker people.
A poll conducted earlier this year by Pew Research Center showed people between ages 18 and 29 are more likely to say Americans should not give up privacy to ensure safety from terrorism.
But another survey by Pew showed while young people disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, they are also more likely to say the government should be responsible that all Americans have health coverage.
The "education" part of Brannon's website only addresses K-12 education, saying that Brannon would "end federal involvement in education and restore parents’ rights and responsibilities in educating children." Similarly, his website does not address student loan debt or college affordability.
He once said that public education "does nothing but dehumanize students."
In a civil lawsuit in March, Brannon was found to have misled investors in a startup company and was responsible for paying the investors more than $450,000.
Still, the lawsuit did not seem to affect Brannon's candidacy. He is polling at 15 percent — only a few points behind the primary's frontrunner, N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is polling at 18 percent, according Public Policy Polling.
Brannon is also polling tightly with Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C — he has a two percent lead over her, according to polling done by PPP in early April.
With national backing from conservative stars, Brannon has gone from political novice to formidable opponent, and Brannon can potentially force Tillis into a runoff primary.
But in the case of a runoff, Brannon may face a tougher challenge if Tillis and more establishment Republicans face him. And if Brannon makes it to the general election, he will have to battle against perceptions of extremism to unseat Hagan.
Read the other Senate profiles by clicking on the buttons below! And be sure to check out the voter's guide for information on Orange County candidates. Early voting ends May 3, and the primary election is May 6.
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 email@example.com.
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