Trump endorses Tillis for reelection in North Carolina

Trump endorses Tillis for reelection in North Carolina
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE on Tuesday boosted Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Overnight Defense: Military justice overhaul included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review security of 'nuclear football' | Pentagon carries out first air strike in Somalia under Biden MORE in his reelection bid as the North Carolina Republican faces a GOP primary challenge.

“Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina has really stepped up to the plate. Thom is tough on Crime, Strong on the Border and fights hard against Illegal Immigration. He loves our Military, our Vets and our great Second Amendment. I give Thom my Full and Total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted. 

“I’m honored to have President Trump’s endorsement and I’m proud of the results we’ve delivered to reignite our economy, rebuild our military, and make America great again,” Tillis said in a press release shortly after Trump's tweet. “I look forward to campaigning across the state to re-elect President Trump, defend our Republican Senate majority, and keep North Carolina red.”

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Republicans dodged a potentially brutal Senate primary in North Carolina next year after Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerFirst hearing set for lawsuit over Florida's new anti-riot bill NRA appealing Florida ban on gun sales to people under 21 Trump's biggest political obstacle is Trump MORE (R-N.C.) said earlier this month that he would not challenge Tillis for his seat and would instead seek reelection to the House.

However, businessman Garland Tucker is still challenging the one-term incumbent senator. Tucker launched his primary bid last month amid speculation that Tillis was vulnerable to an intraparty challenge from somebody more aligned with Trump. 

As Democrats worked to pass a resolution condemning Trump’s emergency declaration at the U.S. southern border in February, Tillis initially announced he planned to vote for the measure, saying he disagreed that the president should be able to allocate funds Congress had already appropriated. He eventually reversed course on the matter and voted against the resolution.

Carter Wrenn, a veteran Republican consultant who is advising Tucker, told The Hill last month that Tillis had shown himself to be a typical “Washington politician” who is willing to put political convenience over party.

“When he looks at Tillis, Tillis is a Washington politician, who talks a good game, but when you look at how he votes it doesn’t match up,” Wrenn said, adding that Tillis has “his finger to the air and he flip flops” on the issues. 

Beyond Tucker, a handful of Democrats, including former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller and state Sen. Erica Smith, have already announced their own campaigns to unseat Tillis. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report currently rates the 2020 Senate race as “likely” Republican. 

However, a poll earlier this month found Tillis trailing Smith by 7 points

Though North Carolina has traditionally been more supportive of Republicans, Democrats are eyeing Tillis’s seat as a potential pickup opportunity as they try to chip into the GOP’s 53-47 majority in the Senate.

The North Carolina Democratic Party slammed Tillis after Trump's endorsement Tuesday.

"Senator Tillis has spent the past few months spinelessly bending over backwards to appease President Trump at the cost of North Carolina families," North Carolina Democratic Party spokesperson Robert Howard said in a statement. "It's no wonder he's Trump's handpicked candidate - he's abandoned the state he represents for the president he thinks he needs."