The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday April 1st

View from the Hill

As Senate candidates enter final days, Tillis gets prominent help on stage and on screen

If Thom Tillis can defeat Sen. Kay Hagan in the November election, the Republicans will likely have an easy path to their ultimate goal: control of both houses of Congress.

The Republican Party knows this, and its leaders have sent the cavalry into North Carolina to support Tillis’ campaign for U.S. Senate.

On Wednesday, 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney came to Raleigh to campaign with Tillis, and prominent political figures John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry have all come to North Carolina this fall to try to aid Tillis’ candidacy.

Within North Carolina there are very few popular Republicans, including Tillis himself — which might explain why so many GOP politicians are visiting from out of state.

According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, Tillis has a net unfavorable rating of 12 points, with 49 percent of North Carolina residents reporting an unfavorable view of Tillis and only 37 percent with a favorable view. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has a net unfavorable rating of 3 points, with 43 percent of residents opposing his job performance and 40 percent supporting him.

Campaign stops have not been the only way that out-of-state Republican figures can show their support of Tillis. This year political ads have inundated North Carolina residents through all forms of media — one recent analysis found that in a single week, more than one negative political ad aired every minute. And as Election Day nears, many new ads supporting Tillis have featured prominent Republicans.

Two unique figures have become more involved in these new ads: 2016 presidential hopeful and Maryland doctor Ben Carson, and Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory, a candidate for lieutenant governor.

The National Draft Ben Carson For President Committee has launched a series of radio ads attacking Hagan and supporting Tillis.

And Our America Incorporated has launched a TV ad with Guillory. That ad is perhaps the most important as it will appear this weekend, a mere 48 hours before Election Day. In the ad, Guillory states that Hagan and the Democrats are putting African Americans across the state into a new form of slavery — comparing them to plantation owners.

The impact of Guillory's support for Tillis could be interesting, as Guillory is most famous for his efforts to save chicken boxing in Louisiana through opposing anti-cock fighting legislation. Guillory has been promoted nationally by Republicans as one of their foremost conservative African American leaders since Allen West and Herman Cain each lost elections and credibility in 2012.

The attempt by Republicans to attack the section of the Democratic electoral vote made up by African Americans is new this cycle. The party has a long way to go — the latest Public Policy Polling survey of North Carolina politics found that black voters favored Democrats over the GOP by an 84-5 margin.

But it's the results on Election Day that will show the strategy's effectiveness.

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