Jeb Bush Endorses Thom Tillis to Take on Kay Hagan in NC Senate Contest
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Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., endorsed North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis as he seeks the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in what is expected to be one of the most competitive Senate races in the nation.
“Thom Tillis is a proven conservative leader with an impressive track record of results for North Carolina businesses and families,” said Bush, who has increasingly opened the door to running for president in 2016 in recent weeks, on Thursday. “His work on key issues like improving education, keeping taxes low and eliminating burdensome regulations is a testament to his leadership as North Carolina’s House speaker. It is critically important that Republicans win a majority in the U.S. Senate, and I am confident that the road to a majority runs through Thom Tillis in North Carolina.”
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) quickly fired back, looking to link Bush to the tea party movement and the Koch brothers.
“Thom Tillis is a prime example of the extreme GOP candidates who are completely out of touch with the issues the American people care about. Jeb Bush may try to paint himself as a voice of reason in the Republican Party, but today’s endorsement makes clear that he’s part of the problem,” said Michael Czin, a spokesman for the DNC.
“In supporting Thom Tillis, Jeb Bush is throwing his support behind just another Koch-backed candidate who opposes the existence of a minimum wage, would block health options for women, and even wants to eliminate the Department of Education," Czin added. “Those policies may please the Bush-Koch crowd, but they hurt working Americans.”
With Republicans looking to flip the Senate from Democrats in November, the GOP has high hopes for defeating Hagan in the Tarheel State, which is increasingly one of the nation’s chief political battlegrounds. While Barack Obama carried North Carolina in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney won there in 2012.
Polls are showing a tight race between Hagan and Tillis. They also show Tillis is starting to build a solid lead over his Republican primary challengers. If any of the Republican candidates breaks 50 percent in Tuesday’s primary, they will go on to the general election in November. If no candidates break 50 percent, the top two will clash in a runoff primary scheduled for July 15.
Earlier this week, Public Policy Polling (PPP), a national firm with connections to prominent Democrats that is based in North Carolina, released a poll showing Tillis close to breaking 50 percent. Tillis takes 46 percent followed by tea party favorite Dr. Greg Brannon with 20 percent. Pastor Mark Harris, the president of the Baptist State Convention, takes third with 11 percent, with nurse Heather Grant following with 5 percent. Four other candidates poll in the low single digits.
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