by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republican leaders in the Senate are aggressively defending Sen. Thom Tillis, with plans to carpet bomb primary challenger Garland Tucker across the North Carolina airwaves if he jeopardizes the incumbent’s 2020 reelection.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, leadership’s campaign arm, and Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., moved quickly to weaken Tucker upon his campaign launch. Operatives for the two groups are dishing dirt on the wealthy businessman’s past to political reporters in North Carolina and Washington, highlighting his previously expressed, though since discarded, opposition to President Trump — revelations often deadly in GOP primaries.
If the tactic fails, Senate Leadership Fund is prepared to ratchet up the attacks with a heavy dose of advertising on television and other platforms. The super PAC would model the spots after those it deployed successfully two years ago against Rep. Mo Brooks. He threatened leadership’s candidate in the race for the Republican nomination in an Alabama special election until ads popped spotlighting his since-disavowed criticism of Trump.
“It is laughable a charlatan like Garland Tucker thinks he can make this race into a question of who can better support our booming economy under President Trump,” said Jack Pandol, spokesman for Senate Leadership Fund.