Swamp Money: Tucker Decision to Drop Challenge to Tillis Came Down to Fundraising

RALEIGH – Politics is said to be a rich man’s game, but even rich men may find the price of entry too high to stomach. In Monday’s surprise announcement that Garland Tucker would be exiting his primary race against the nation’s least popular U.S. Senator in Thom Tillis, it is money that was cited as the true impediment to continuing the race.


“In a letter to donors, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, Tucker said he would need an additional $2.5 million to finish the primary race and could not continue funding the campaign personally at the same level. He said donor contributions had not bridged the gap during the impeachment inquiry and said there was “no access to national conservative funding.”

Tucker also said he had hoped Trump would “stay out of the primary,” but that his involvement “allowed Tillis to wrap himself in Trump’s endorsement” and made it more difficult to challenge Tillis on his record. He also blamed the impeachment inquiry, arguing that the process was a “boon” to incumbent senators and allowed Tillis to appeal to the party base by defending the president. Tillis has been sharply critical of the impeachment inquiry.

“Impeachment has dramatically sucked the oxygen out of our campaign discussion and greatly curtailed our fundraising ability,” Tucker wrote in the letter. […]”

Despite all this, Tillis’ history of campaigning as a conservative only to jump headfirst into the Swamp once elected is not lost on a great many Republican primary voters. His numbers are literally the worst in the country. Money to exploit his and shed light on his flip-flopping and cross-aisle hand holding was the missing ingredient.

Tucker had reportedly spent about $1.5 million on his campaign, and, as his letter alludes to, was faced with raising $2.5 more or funding it himself. Having had a very successful career as an investor and founder of Triangle Capital, Tucker is for all intents and purposes rich. Well, maybe not all purposes; even statewide political races have come to require nationwide fundraising efforts that tower above even a rich man’s savings.

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Tillis’ big dollar primary ad buy seems to have elbowed Tucker out of the race, but the coast isn’t clear for the former N.C. House Speaker. In addition to challenger Sandy Smith, others that do have a national fundraising network and the political capital might just take their shot at what should be a sitting duck. If that is to happen, it’d have to happen soon, and they’d have to shoot straight.

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