North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis said Thursday he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan next year, making him the first high-profile Republican to announce a bid.Read the full article
Tillis, a four-term legislator from suburban Charlotte who has led the chamber since 2011, told The Associated Press in an interview he will file campaign committee paperwork in Washington early next week.
Tillis, who had been considered a potential candidate for months, said he's seeking the GOP nomination because he's proved he can work with Democrats to get things done in Raleigh. He said he can do the same thing in Washington, even as a first-termer, should he win in November 2014. ...
Tillis, 52, was one of the architects of the 2010 campaign that gave Republicans control of both chambers of the state legislature simultaneously for the first time since 1870.
A prolific fundraiser for legislative races, the former IBM consultant traveled the state for more than a year recruiting candidates, bringing with it loyalty and his election as speaker in 2011. He held dozens of town hall meetings statewide in late 2011 and early 2012, which raised his own profile among grassroots Republicans. ....
Democrats and liberal-leaning advocates have blamed Tillis and other Republican legislative leaders for policies they say have eroded public education and moved North Carolina far to the right. They also point to the General Assembly's refusal to, mostly with federal dollars, expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of uninsured people through the Affordable Care Act. ...
The House speaker "has made a mess in Raleigh - imagine what he'd do in Washington," state Democratic Party spokesman Ben Ray said in a release. "Tillis has ignored North Carolina job creation and the middle class."