Christensen: Tillis Race Should Worry Governor McCrory
Rob Christensen, long time observer of NC politics, writes in a new column that Governor McCrory should be worried for his own reelection chances given how much Thom Tillis has struggled in his race against Sen. Kay Hagan. Christensen writes that moderate voters are rejecting the extreme conservative agenda of the current legislature. From his article,
If the polls are to be believed, Republicans are on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in North Carolina’s Senate race.
All the fundamentals favored the GOP. No Democratic senator from North Carolina had won re-election since conservative Sen. Sam Ervin Jr. in 1968. President Barack Obama is unpopular in North Carolina and so is his signature program, the Affordable Care Act. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s polling numbers are under water.
The Republicans are offering a creditable candidate in House Speaker Thom Tillis who can point to a substantive list of legislative accomplishments. Whether you agree with those accomplishments, depends on your politics.
But despite those advantages, nearly every poll shows Hagan with a small, but significant lead.
What is happening is that Obama’s unpopularity is being trumped by the Republican legislature’s unpopularity. North Carolina’s middle-of-the road electorate is expressing its displeasure at what Tillis calls the “conservative revolution” in Raleigh.
All of this is being nervously watched by GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, who will likely face re-election in two years.
Legislature’s long shadow
McCrory ran as a center/right business pragmatist. That is how he governed as Charlotte mayor, and that is the tradition of North Carolina’s last two Republican governors, Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin.
But McCrory has been overshadowed in Raleigh by a highly ideological legislature that has pushed one of the most conservative agendas in the country.
McCrory has not offered a coherent message, at times embracing the legislature and at other times distancing himself from it. It is a political straddle in which he is trying to both hold his party’s conservative base while appealing to more moderate swing voters.
It is often perplexing, and his poor polling numbers suggest it is not working very well.