by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
WSJ reports on eight new faces in the US Senate. You can read about all of them here.
Here’s what they had to say about North Carolina’s new senator, Thom Tillis:
Republican Thom Tillis will enter the Senate next year after narrowly defeating incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in one of the most expensive and closely watched races in the country.
A native of Florida, the 54-year-old Mr. Tillis made a rapid political rise in his adopted home of North Carolina, fended off tea-party-backed challengers in the Republican Senate primary and raised millions of dollars to edge Ms. Hagan.
Mr. Tillis’s family relocated frequently when he was a child, and he moved often from school to school. When he graduated from high school, he chose to get a job instead of going to college. He didn’t earn a college degree until 1996, when he graduated from the University of Maryland. Mr. Tillis worked for the accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and later at International Business Machines Corp.
In 1998, he moved his family from the Washington, D.C., suburbs to North Carolina and ran for local office in part to advocate a new bike trail. In 2006, he was elected to the statehouse, and he was chosen as speaker of the House in 2011, only the fifth Republican to hold that post.
Mr. Tillis oversaw an overhaul of the state’s tax code, cutting personal and business income taxes and eliminating the estate tax. After abiding by a self-imposed limit of four terms in office, he decided to run against Ms. Hagan for the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Tillis faced a crowded Republican primary. Several tea-party groups backed his opponents, while Mr. Tillis won the support of pro-business organizations and other more centrist Republican organizations. In a controversial move, Mr. Tillis skipped a few campaign events with other Republican challengers in an effort to distance himself from them.
He survived the primary and fought a tough race against Ms. Hagan, considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate. In an echo of the Republican primary, Ms. Hagan drew criticism when she skipped a debate with Mr. Tillis in the final weeks of the campaign, a choice that might have helped tip the balance.
Quote: “There has never been a U.S. senator or candidate who has ever had the onslaught of a hundred-plus million dollars in an election. It’s a record in United States history.”