Great piece out from The Daily Beast today:
Incumbent Republican Thom Tillis has been taking some heat over the discrepancy between his coronavirus response and his response to an earlier outbreak when Barack Obama was president. Tillis is all in when it comes to Donald Trump. He says the president is “taking every step he can to help the safety of the people in the United States” despite complaints from governors around the country, including his home state governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, that they have not received the testing supplies they need. It’s China’s fault, Tillis says, that Trump wasn’t quicker off the mark.
This posture is in stark contrast to the one Tillis took in 2014, when Obama was president, and he fanned the flames of the Ebola outbreak, blaming Obama and incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan for not preparing enough before the outbreak, and not doing enough to combat it with a ban on flights from West Africa. “And every day they say everything is under control, and the next day you see another gaffe by the CDC and the administration,” Tillis said back then, in a line of attack that media reports credited with giving him momentum to overtake Hagan heading into the homestretch of the 2014 campaign.
Tarheel voters are starting to notice Tillis’ lapdog loyalty to Trump. Morgan Jackson, a Democratic consultant based in Raleigh, North Carolina, says voters take cues from how elected officials and candidates handle themselves during a major crisis, and Tillis has some explaining to do.
“He’s starting to get questions about how different a response he had then, while now he triple-doubles down on whatever Trump says, like if you want a test you can get it, which isn’t true,” Jackson say. “The cues that voters are taking from this is that he’s not showing leadership. He’s on board with the president no matter what, which is a dangerous place for a politician to be in a crisis when he’s perceived as making decisions based on partisan politics rather than public health and safety.”
While still praising Trump for his “decisive leadership,” Tillis did join with two other North Carolina lawmakers, Democrat David Price and Republican Roy Hudson, sending a letter to Vice President Mike Pence imploring the administration send more test kit supplies to their state.
The race took another significant turn on March 3 when Democrats nominated a candidate with broad appeal whom Tillis can’t easily label a socialist. Cal Cunningham, 46, is a moderate businessman, former state senator, and veteran who won his primary against state Senator Erica Smith by 57 to 35 percent.
One factor that really helped Cunningham: It was revealed in late February that Smith, who is African-American, was backed by the Faith and Power PAC, which was created and funded by GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s House Majority PAC.
Meddling in a Democratic primary to help the weaker candidate shows how worried McConnell is about protecting his Senate majority. The phony PAC backfired, tarring Tillis and boosting Cunningham’s name recognition in a race that could help tip power in the U.S. Senate.
But it’s Tillis’ comments about Obama and Ebola that “could come back to bite him” in the general election, says Stu Rothenberg, senior editor and analyst with the nonpartisan Inside Elections. Tillis won by only 1.5 points in 2014, which was a banner year for Republicans. “Tillis has embraced Trump as much as anybody, and that’s OK as long as Trump is popular and headed to reelection—but not if Trump is seen as out of touch and not up to the job,” Rothenberg told the Daily Beast.
And Cal Cunningham (D. NC) has been hitting Tillis hard on this:
Let’s make sure Karma bites Tillis on the add hard. Click here to donate and get involved with Cunningham’s campaign.