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View from the Hill

Profile: Thom Tillis stands out from other Republicans, still behind in funding compared to Hagan

This is the tenth in a series of profiles on the 2014 U.S. Senate Candidates on View from the Hill.

Thom Tillis has friends in high places.

The N.C. Speaker of the House and Republican front-runner for Kay Hagan’s U.S. Senate seat has the backing of mainstream Republicans like Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) and former President Bush advisor Karl Rove.

Tillis has served in the state legislature since 2006 and became speaker of the house in 2011.

Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory announced his endorsement of Thom Tillis.

“He is a man of incredible integrity," McCrory told the (Raleigh) News & Observer. "He is a person with incredible experience and a track record of success and he’s an individual who understand business and understands job creation.”

Tillis could not be reached for an interview.

He has raised more than $3 million for the senate election according to the report on April 16 released by Open Secrets, a national research group that tracks election funds. The candidate in the Republican senatorial primary who has raised the second most amount of fundraising is Greg Brannon.

In comparison, Hagan has raised more than $13 million since April 16, more than three times what Tillis has raised. She has spent almost $5 million where Tillis has spent about $2 million.

Tillis opposes the federal minimum wage increase proposed by the Obama administration and said it would be a burden to the economy.

“Obviously we want people to be paid a wage that could help make ends meet, but when you increase artificially the cost of labor to do a job, then often times those jobs will just go away,” Tillis told the (Raleigh) News & Observer in February.

“I think for the most part the market needs to define that,” he said.

Tillis believes in lowering taxes for corporations and individuals as a means to fuel economic growth.

After being tied in polls with Tea Party candidate Greg Brannon for a few months, Tillis is breaking away from the pack of seven Republican candidates, according to Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling center.

As of the end of April, Tillis is polling at 46 percentage points — 26 points more than Greg Brannon, who polls at 20 percentage points. The remaining six Republican candidates together poll at 22 percentage points.

Tillis’ advantage comes from his momentum in political ads, PPP said in their report. Of likely primary voters polled by PPP, 80 percent have seen Tillis’ ads compared to 28 percent for Brannon.

A candidate needs to win 40 percent of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff prior to the general election in November — a runoff that could split the Republican party, making it difficult to win the seat from Hagan.

But this concern seems to be less valid in light of recent polling numbers, and it looks as though Tillis will be pitted against Hagan come November.

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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