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NC-Sen: “Will the FBI probe into Sen. Richard Burr (R) affect Sen. Thom Tillis’s (R) re-election?”

3 min read

The Charlotte Observer has a good piece out asking political experts about whether or not U.S. Senator Richard Burr’s (R. NC) FBI probe will have any effect on U.S. Senator Thom Tillis’ (R. NC) re-election campaign. Republican operatives are doubtful but that’s not stopping Democrats from using Burr’s scandal to rile up the base against Tillis, who is already facing a tough re-election bid:

Democrats wasted little time in going after the state’s junior senator. In a statement, N.C. Democratic spokesman Robert Howard called Tillis’s his remarks a “tired, pathetic dodge.”

Tom Jensen, director of the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, said he has already seen an effect in the numbers.

In February, he said, Tillis’s approval stood at 39%. In the first poll after the Burr news broke in March, it was 26%.

“This is, I would argue, the first really huge news story involving either of them in the last decade and because voters don’t know either of them,” Jensen said. “This episode is acting to define both of them interchangeably in voters’ heads.”

The News & Observer reported that Dean Debnam, the company’s president and CEO, and his wife have given Cunningham’s campaign the maximum donation of $2,800.

Paul Shumaker, campaign consultant for both Burr and Tillis, said he doesn’t expect the Burr probe to have any effect on Tillis. Past scandals that have swept up prominent N.C. Democrats, including former Gov. Mike Easley, had little effect on other Democrats, he said.

“Neither side . . . comes to the table without sin and people see that,” Shumaker said. “Voters are not going to make their decision on the fact that you’ve got one senator in the state under investigation and one who’s not. That’s a stretch . . . Having another investigation in Washington is not anything new to anyone.”

But the ultimate effect could depend on whether the investigation of Burr leads to any charges.

“When the FBI gets involved that raises serious questions,” said political scientist Michael Bitzer of Catawba College. “As the news (about Burr) grows the pressure will likely be more intense on Tillis.”

Hood, of the Locke Foundation, said any criminal charges would hurt not only Tillis but other Republicans.

“That I think would affect the enthusiasm of Republicans in the state and perhaps elevate the enthusiasm of Democrats,” he said. “But again, you’d have to get to that point. Short of that the other issues in the election will loom far larger.”

Tillis is already being tied to another unpopular Republican:

The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump conservative super PAC run in part by George Conway, is condemning Sen. Thom Tillis’s loyalty to President Trump and claiming the North Carolina Republican puts “politics over people.”

A new 30-second ad released Thursday says North Carolinians know “how to judge people, work hard, help others, do right.”

“But we can spot the other kind too,” the narrator of the ad says as images Tillis, who is up for reelection in November, appear. “You know the type. Obsessed with power, care more about themselves than anyone else. They put politics over people, folks who don’t understand or just don’t care what the rest of us are going through.”

“In the White House, that’s Donald Trump. In North Carolina, it’s Thom Tillis,” the ad, titled “We See You,” continues. “Don’t worry Thom, we see you. We see you better than ever.”

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with Burr but let’s focus heavily on getting rid of Tillis. Click below to donate and get involved with Cal Cunningham, Joe Biden and these North Carolina Democrats campaigns:

Cal Cunningham for U.S. Senate

Joe Biden for President

Roy Cooper For Governor

Yvonne Lewis Holley for Lt. Governor

Josh Stein for Attorney General

Deborah Ross for Congress

Kathy Manning for Congress

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