WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis (RINO-NC) is quite a character. The former Speaker of the N.C. House limped to a 2014 U.S. Senate victory over unpopular incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in a race that should have been a slam dunk for Republicans. Tillis immediately set out to be even less popular than his predecessor by boasting of his bipartisan approach, proudly claiming the RINO label, and doing more to advance Democratic policies than those of his own political base.
Now that the 2018 elections are over, and the 2020 campaign has officially begun, Tillis is trying to change his tune. Tillis tends to sound more conservative around election time, and transitions to his natural state as a Swamp creature in the interim. The hijinks may have been largely ignored in 2014, due to his competition, but in 2020 he could be facing a whole different animal.
“The star power of the Democrat who’s likely to challenge Tillis in 2020 — Senator Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg County — might give the incumbent “the willies.”
Jeff Jackson crisscrossed the state — including appearances in Boone — during 2018, raising money for other Democrats running to break the Republican majority in the NC Senate, his home base. That effort was successful. He made himself better known, and he did it for the benefit of others (he himself had a very safe seat and could afford to spend his time campaigning for newcomers).
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Jackson served in Afghanistan, Kandahar Province, as an Army reservist, became an attorney and a prosecutor in Gaston County, rose in Democratic ranks, and when Senator Dan Clodfelter resigned partway into his term in 2014, Jackson was appointed to fill his seat and was elected in his own right in the fall of 2014. Jackson has been a champion of legislating an independent redistricting commission to put the kibosh on partisan and racial gerrymandering, and he hasn’t been shy about becoming an outspoken Democratic leader. […]
In February 2015, Jackson made The Rachel Maddow Show for being the only legislator to show up for work on a snow day. He’s good on TV, and he knows it. He can raise a lot of money.
We like his chances. He’s going to bend that flexible reed, maybe to the breaking point.”
Aside from his actual politics, Jackson is likable, and, as this informed local blogger points, out he is confident in his ability as a politician. He’s good at raising money, he is presentable and articulate on TV, and he has all the Democratic talking points at his disposal.
Those on the Left may view Tillis as vulnerable because he is moving to embrace President Trump with an eye on re-election, but the truth is that Tillis is vulnerable because of the opposite – he’s not made a stand for conservatism at any point in his tenure in D.C. He lost conservative voters’ trust long ago, and their enthusiasm is a necessary ingredient to win a statewide election.
Yes, Trump will be on the ballot in 2020, and that will certainly bring Republicans out to vote, but Tillis represents the Swamp that Trump will be promising to drain (again) and Republicans know that. Up against a good-looking, put together, nice guy with a military pedigree and the Leftist media at his back, like Jackson, Tillis doesn’t stand a chance.
So despite the inclination for the GOP establishment put their weight behind a milquetoast, Chamber of Commerce Republican incumbent like Tillis – because they know he will play ball – the grassroots Republicans of the Old North State should already be thinking about viable primary challengers that can actually engender their support and back it up when they get to Washington.
Otherwise, Democrats will be looking at the Tillis Senate seat as low hanging fruit.
Read more on that school of thought here
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