NC Sen. Tillis’s Primary Challenger Sees the Light on Trump

‘Trump’s personality is certainly different than anyone we have ever seen, but I think his policies have been amazingly consistent…’

NC Senate Race is a Trump Loyalty Test

Garland Tucker / IMAGE: Helen Croak via Youtube

(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who has bucked President Donald Trump on a number of issues, is getting a primary challenge.

During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Raleigh businessman Garland S. Tucker III announced last week that he would be entering the Republican primary in the Tar Heel State.

It’s easy to see why conservatives might be disenchanted with Tillis; Not only did he introduce legislation that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller, he also co-sponsored a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” residing in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Tillis’s latest break was when he condemned Trump’s national emergency declaration on the border—before reversing course after an outcry from the Republican base.

“My view is that if Tillis is a friend—well, if you have friends like that then you don’t really need enemies,” Tucker told Real Clear Politics.

Tucker, who received Hannity’s endorsement, would seem an unlikely challenger to Tillis. Long involved in the conservative movement, he was deeply skeptical of Trump’s ideological sympathies during the 2016 presidential election.

Instead, Tucker was an early supporter of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, before turning to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and then Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. At one point he even backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

While not a “Never Trumper,” Tucker went on to write an op-ed for his hometown paper in which he stated his “conscience was clear” because he was “in no way responsible” for Trump’s nomination.

Ultimately, he voted for Trump and called on others to do the same—if only because of the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton.

“It never feels very good to arrive at a decision via negative reasoning, but it’s far easier for me to commit never to vote for Clinton—and the 2016 Democratic platform—than it is to commit to vote for Trump,” he wrote.

Since then, things have changed.

Ironically, Tucker now seems to relish the prospect of casting himself as someone who will be a loyal foot-soldier to the president. He called Trump’s conservative record in office a “wonderful surprise” and pointed to his judicial appointments and tax cuts as proof—a sentiment that many conservatives seem to share.

“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.”

Perhaps because Tucker has amassed a vast fortune and can self-fund a campaign, Tillis and allies are taking the challenge seriously—and plan on using the businessman’s anti-Trump history 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.

The same organization called Tucker’s campaign a “quixotic adventure for a wealthy, out-of-touch liberal.”

One Tillis ally said the businessman was an “anti-Trump activist.”

Another spokesman for the NRSC went so far as to criticize Tucker for maintaining that the president’s personal life was “not exemplary.”

It remains to be seen whether North Carolina Republicans will agree with this narrative—or identify with Tucker. It could be that they, too, have been surprised by Trump.

In any case, Tucker’s campaign isn’t going to let Tillis and allies use their resources to define him early on.

He’s already up on television.