WASHINGTON, D.C. – That’s right; Sen. Thom Tillis (RINO-NC) is so weak in terms of favorability that prominent conservative group Club for Growth is urging North Carolina Republican Congressman, and chair of the U.S. House Republican Study Committee, Mark Walker to challenge him in the 2020 primary.
— Tim Boyum (@TimBoyumTV) May 23, 2019
That Politico story quotes the president of Club for Growth, David McIntosh about the group’s reasoning in challenging Tillis and selling Walker. It boils down to Tillis being incredibly unpopular, something grassroots Republicans are well aware of.
“The Club for Growth said its move was rooted in a growing belief that Tillis is vulnerable — both in the primary and general elections.
“With such slim majorities in recent years, the Club for Growth has not challenged Republican senators,” said David McIntosh, the Club for Growth’s president. “But when there is a strong conservative alternative who will likely perform better against a Democratic challenge, we reserve the right to challenge incumbents.” […]”
Tillis, who has in the past proudly worn the RINO label while cutely trying to change the meaning of the acronym, has a habit of speaking down to the “Far Right” and embracing the concept that North Carolina is a Purple State that need a purple senator. In reality, though, Tillis’ purple ways have turned off the Republican base to such a degree that big conservative groups think it safe and smart to challenge him in the primary because they view him as vulnerable in the general.
After all, despite the Old North State’s mixture of blue urban/suburban territories and solid red everywhere in between, a politician that tries to straddle that divide and speak out of both sides of his or her mouth is going to lose the confidence of the political base that put them there in the first place. Winning such a general election is more about exciting and turning out the Republican base than it is appeasing the moderates and holding hands with the other side. Tillis has certainly lost the confidence by doing far more of the latter.
More from the Politico piece:
“[…] Senior Republicans are deeply concerned that a disruptive primary in the state could wreak havoc on the party’s prospects, including Trump’s. Already, there is considerable angst about a turmoil-wracked North Carolina Republican Party, whose chairman was recently indicted in a corruption case to which Walker was tied, though the congressman was not charged and said he cooperated with the investigation. And some in the party have grown concerned about the governor’s race, where GOP strategists have lamented about a field of lackluster candidates.
“I’m surprised [the Club for Growth] would be encouraging a pathway that hurts the president,” said Paul Shumaker, a Tillis adviser. “No one benefits from a combative primary in a battleground.” […]”
What Shumaker must mean is that his client, Tillis, doesn’t benefit from a combative primary, so “please, back off.” Indeed, the voters who are clamoring for an alternative to Tillis certainly benefit by having those choices available. In fact, the piece above highlights a poll in which among North Carolina Republican voters “only 17 percent said they would vote to re-nominate the senator regardless of who he faced in a primary.”
That means 83 percent of Republican voters want someone else! Sometimes, when facing one primary challenger, an incumbent may welcome a third candidate into the mix because they’d serve to split the opposition and ensure the incumbent’s reelection. But Tillis is so unpopular that he could come in third in a three-way primary of serious, well-funded contenders.
So far, Walker’s camp is not shying away from the invitation to challenge Tillis. Read more on Walker and Club for Growth from Politico here.