Establishment GOP Tries to Squash Vulnerable Tillis’s Primary Challenger

‘North Carolina needs a senator who will work with the president, not one who was aiding Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes and is now lying to cover his tracks…’

NC Senate Race is a Trump Loyalty Test

Garland Tucker / IMAGE: Helen Croak via Youtube

(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Congressional Republicans are rallying behind Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, whose incumbency is now threatened by a wealthy primary challenger, Garland Tucker.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., moved to weaken Tucker shortly after he launched his campaign by spreading dirt about the wealthy businessman’s pass to reporters in North Carolina.

Tucker’s establishment opponents have focused on his past opposition to President Donald Trump.

However, despite his skepticism of Trump’s 2016 anti-establishment candidacy, Tucker recently came out in support of the president and praised Trump’s “consistent” conservative policies.

“I would say that, with Trump, the most important way to look at him is his policies,” Tucker said. “Those are right out of the Reagan–Thatcher playbook. There is a lot of noise, and Trump’s personality is certainly different than anyone we have ever seen, but I think his policies have been amazingly consistent.”

Tucker’s vast fortune—he’s pledged to spend at least $1 million of his own money against Tillis—means he can self-fund his campaign, so Tillis and his allies are taking the challenge seriously, using his anti-Trump past rhetoric against him.

“This primary is nothing more than an opponent of the president’s agenda with money to burn teaming up with a past-his-prime political consultant who is desperate to cash a paycheck,” said Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A top GOP pollster, John McLaughlin, cut ties with Tucker after the Senate GOP campaign arm pressured him against the move.

Republicans told McLaughlin that a disruptive primary could hurt the party’s prospects in 2020, and by Tuesday, McLaughlin’s firm had cut ties with Tucker, according to Politico.

McLaughlin’s arrangement with Tucker caused considerable angst among Senate GOP operatives, many of whom viewed McLaughlin as an important asset to Trump’s campaign. They argued that McLaughlin’s work could give Tucker the false impression that he had the president’s backing.

“It is laughable a charlatan like Garland Tucker thinks he can make this race into a question of who can better support our booming economy under President Trump,” said Jack Pandol, spokesman for Senate Leadership Fund.

“North Carolina needs a senator who will work with the president, not one who was aiding Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes and is now lying to cover his tracks.”

Tillis is desperately trying to hold onto Trump’s support. According to Politico, he met with Trump last week and plans to attend a Trump 2020 fundraiser in North Carolina headlined by Vice President Mike Pence.

Tucker’s campaign chairman Francis De Luca told the Washington Examiner that the “Washington, D.C. swamp groups” have misrepresented Tucker’s past statements to protect their establishment.

“Neither Thom Tillis or Garland Tucker supported President Trump during the 2016 Presidential Primary. Since the president was elected, Garland Tucker has praised his stands on issues repeatedly in articles and op-eds,” De Luca said.

“Now, to get re-elected, Thom Tillis is telling voters he’s pro-Trump. It’s pure Washington politics.”