RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) filed to run for re-election Monday, saying he’ll vote against removing President Trump from office if the House impeaches him.
Tillis said, “The whole process is flawed. It’s been unfair. I’ve read the transcript. I’ve read the whistleblower complaint. I’ve been briefed up on some of the other interviews that we’ll get more information when I sit as a juror. But, I’m a definite no.”
Tillis’s race is expected to be among the most competitive and most expensive in 2020, said Meredith College political analyst David McLennan.
The senator faced criticism from some conservatives for initially opposing President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration earlier this year before he changed his mind and supported it.
“He recognized after we explained the concerns we had about future abuses from liberal presidents for the National Emergencies Act, he made a public statement before we ever voted on the resolution of disapproval saying we probably do need to update it,” said Tillis.
Talk of Tillis facing a primary challenger grew in that time period, leading Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker to launch a campaign against him.
Tucker ended that campaign last Monday, saying he didn’t think he could raise enough money to fund the campaign through the March primary. He was also concerned the focus on the impeachment proceedings would make it difficult to get voters to focus on the primary race.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is still considering his options after his district got redrawn in the recent Congressional redistricting. Sandy Smith, a farmer in Ayden, has announced a campaign but has not filed the paperwork to run.
“With Thom Tillis, his first race was one of the most expensive races in U.S. history. There’s every expectation, it’ll be a very expensive, competitive race,” said David McLennan. “But yet, people like President Trump more than they like Thom Tillis. He’s thought, in some circles, to really be more moderate.”
On the Democratic side, five Democrats have already filed for the seat, including former state Sen. Cal Cunningham and current state Sen. Erica Smith.
After Tillis filed, NC Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin released the following statement:
Senator Tillis is the least popular Senator in the country for a simple reason: he’s a flip-flopping fraud and North Carolinians can’t trust him. Whether in Raleigh or D.C., he has put his special interest backers and party leaders ahead of hardworking North Carolina families, slashing taxes for wealthy corporations on the backs of our teachers, blocking Medicaid expansion, and voting to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Senator Tillis is a typical self-serving Washington politician who puts himself before what’s right for our state, which is why North Carolina will send a new, independent voice to the Senate next year.
Candidates have until Dec. 20 to file. The primary is March 3.
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