Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thom Tillis: "I'm the Jerkiest of This Group of Jerks!"

Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, Thom Tillis, has overseen a radical lurch to the right in state government. Hoping to take his scorched earth road show to the national level, Tillis is running as the establishment candidate in the GOP Senate primary against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. Hagan is facing an uphill battle to retain her seat this year, but smart maneuvering like this should help move the needle in her direction:
Tillis, who has to avoid a primary runoff, has been under fire from conservative rivals as soft on Obamacare, because he suggested the law’s general goals might not be uniformly awful and even said Obamacare is a “great idea that can’t be paid for.” Senator Kay Hagan’s campaign then ran a radio ad tweaking Tillis over that quote, in a move observers speculated was designed to hurt him among GOP primary voters. Now Tillis is up with the radio spot — flagged by North Carolina Dems — reinforcing his anti-Obamacare cred.
Interestingly, the ad describes blocking the Medicaid expansion — which would expand coverage to half a million people — as a key part of the “conservative revolution” Tillis helped engineer in Raleigh.
The Hagan campaign will make this a part of their case against Tillis, using his opposition to the Medicaid expansion to argue that Tillis’ “conservative revolution” is terrible for the middle class.
“Tillis will have to answer for his bragging about rejecting health care for 500,000 North Carolinans, a move that also cost health care providers millions, in particular those in rural areas,” Hagan spokesperson Sadie Weiner emails. “Tillis has shown time and again that he will push a special interest agenda at the expense of middle class families, whether it’s rejecting health care for 500,000 North Carolinians or handing out tax cuts to the wealthy while teachers were force to go another year without a pay raise.” 
As reactionary as Tillis and the GOP-dominated General Assembly have been, his primary opponents are even farther to the right. If Tillis has to match them in crazy to win the primary, Hagan might be able to pull off a win by appealing to the sane among us.

There is a lot of pent up shock and anger here at the General Assembly and the Governor from Duke Energy over their education cuts, voting rights restrictions, gutting of environmental rules, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and reproductive-health restrictions. Moral Mondays are just the visible evidence of that, and in a state-wide contest (where the GOP gerrymandering of 2011 can't help them cheat their way to victory), Hagan has a shot. Now all we have to do is GET OUT THE VOTE.

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