RALEIGH – As one of the least popular senators in the United States, Thom Tillis (RINO-NC) was sure to draw some challengers for the 2020 Republican primary. The real question was, though, would the incumbent draw a challenger serious and well-funded enough to actually unseat him.
That question seems to have been answered affirmatively with the filing of Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker. And judging by the way he is already attacking Tucker, Tillis seems a tad unnerved by the challenge.
From the News & Observer:
Garland Tucker III, the retired chairman and CEO of Triangle Capital Corporation and an author, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Committee to run in the Republican primary on Monday. Tucker wrote “Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Changed America — Jefferson to Reagan” and has served on the board of the John Locke Foundation and the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute.
Charles Hellwig, the former Wake County GOP chair and current 4th District GOP chair, is serving as campaign manager. Longtime Republican political consultant Carter Wrenn is also working for Tucker. An official campaign announcement is expected soon.
“A group of us have been encouraging Garland to run,” Wrenn said in a telephone interview. “Like a lot of conservatives, I look at Washington and just shake my head. Tillis is sort of a typical Washington politician.”
Wrenn is being kind. Tillis is the embodiment of why regular folks tend to hate politicians. They campaign one way, legislate another; They talk down to the ‘little people,’ and ingratiate themselves to special interests at the expense of Americans.
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Tillis loved being Lord of the Swamp in Raleigh, but was pulled to Washington where the muck is that muck swampier. While he seems to fit in perfectly with the Establishment on Capitol Hill, the voters that sent him there felt hoodwinked almost immediately. He has patronized the Republican base, made a point to challenge a president elected by that base, and made a habit of crossing the aisle to advance Democrats’ agenda such as amnesty.
Challenging an incumbent certainly isn’t a walk in the park, but an incumbent like Tillis has left the door wide open for a serious challenge from the right. Tucker seems to check all the boxes: well funded, well connected, and well to the right of Tillis.
That may not be saying much, considering Tillis’ history of pushing Establishment/Democratic policies, but the contrast will become more clear as the primary battle heats up.
Tucker graudated from Harvard Business School and found most of his success via Triangle Capital Corporation, a investment firm. The business was sold in 2018 for nearly $1 billion. So, he likely won’t have any trouble getting his message out.
Tillis, however, is already trying to shape the narrative, attacking Tucker as ‘Anti-Trump’ because he supported other GOP candidates in the 2016 primary and publicly expressed concerns about Donald Trump. This is not unlike many conservatives that struggled with Trump early on, only to come around later as the contrast with Clinton became clear and his track record as president confirmed an unprecedented amount of follow through on campaign promises.
More from the N&O:
“The Tillis campaign said in a statement that Tucker is an “anti-Trump activist.”
“(Tucker) has a long record of attacking the President and appears to be assembling an anti-Trump team. Senator Tillis looks forward to continuing to work with President Trump and Vice President Pence in securing our border and keeping our economy growing at a record setting pace,” said Tillis campaign manager Luke Blanchat. […]”
That’s pretty rich coming from a swamp-dwelling, special interest-serving senator whose reputation was earned by very publicly opposing the president and advancing Democrats’ priorities.
The Tucker campaign appears set to officially launch on Wednesday, May 8. As this long awaited primary contest enters its opening rounds, we’ll be sure to bring you the latest. Something tells us that there are a great many Republican primary voters out there just itching to vote for someone that isn’t Tillis. THAT may be the best thing going for Tucker.