WASHINGTON, D.C. – When early rumblings of a serious primary challenge emerged, Senator Thom Tillis (RINO-NC) and his reelection campaign brushed it off. When conservative Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker officially announced the challenge, Tillis; campaign called him a charlatan and tagged him (ironically) as not sufficiently Pro-Trump.
This week records revealed that Tillis has placed an TV and radio ad buy that suggests the former N.C. House Speaker is quite concerned. Why? Because the ad buy totals $2.2 million and represents about half of Tillis’ entire war chest. In the primary.
From the Hill:
“Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) will spend $2.2 million on television and radio advertisements before his state’s March 3 primary, an early hint that his campaign may be worried about his standing among Republican voters. […]
The Tillis campaign said Thursday it would begin running radio and cable television advertisements next week. A Tillis adviser said the campaign had made initial purchases of statewide broadcast airtime beginning in January. […]”
That’s probably because in the last several months polling has indicated that not only is Tillis the least popular senator in the nation, but that his numbers have been collapsing while the virtually unknown Tucker has been surging. The first polls done had Tillis up by 67 points; the latest polls show only a 10 point lead. Further, with up to a third of voters still undecided, Tucker’s room to grow is significant.
When your political opponent makes a huge ad buy, it’d make sense to be nervous. However, the fact that Tillis is dedicating half of his campaign fund reserves during the primary tells the Tucker campaign what they have sensed up until now – Tillis is vulnerable and he knows it.
The question remains, though, what form the ads will take – negative attacks on Tucker? Or pushing the farcical notion that Tillis is a certified MAGA, Trump-supporting, conservative. With a couple million dollars, they certainly have the resources to do both, but the ratio will be telling.
That’s what honorary chairman of the Tucker campaign, former head of Civitas Francis DeLuca, told First in Freedom Daily.
“Will these ads be pro-illegal immigration, or anti-immigration?” DeLuca wondered, referring to Tillis’ long history of pushing amnesty and scoffing at building the border wall, only to embrace President Donald Trump in a bear hug and posing as some border hawk conservative.
The Tucker campaign feels that the Republican base knows that Tillis is not so much a Trump supporter, as a slick politician nearing a tough reelection. DeLuca points out that even when Trump won and took office, Tillis was so pro-Trump that he cautioned conservatives that the president-elect did not “have a mandate.”
Don’t think Republicans/Trump supporters remember things like that, along with all the other ways Tillis has acted to block Trump or help Democrats advance their agenda? The reception the Trump-endorsed, Republican U.S. Senator from North Carolina received at Trump special election rally in Fayetteville on Monday was not exactly encouraging it appears:
US Sen. Thom Tillis just took the stage to a chorus of boos here at this Trump rally in support of Dan Bishop. Not a strong showing as he continues to face a primary challenge in 2020 #ncpol #ncsen pic.twitter.com/1ScV0jD8Ow
— Nick Ochsner (@NickOchsnerWBTV) September 9, 2019
With that kind of popularity among the Republican base, it’s no wonder Tillis has been scared into unloading half his funds on TV and radio for the primary. But with a welcome like that in Fayetteville, one has to wonder how much positive traction $2 million in ads are going give him. It seems the more people know this particular politician, the less they like him. As such the ads may earn more eye-rolls and clicks on the Tucker campaign website than anything else.