GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – When Sen. Thom Tillis opened up for questions during a virtual press gathering on Thursday, there were queries far broader than the same-sex marriage bill he is supporting and why he had changed his stance on the issue since he was speaker of North Carolina’s House.
The most immediate: What does Tillis think of former President Donald Trump’s plans to seek the presidency again in 2024 and will he support Trump?
First, Tillis said, he did a “lot of good work with President Trump. I consider him a friend.” But he said he was waiting to decide whom to support.
“We have seen a number of people in the Republican Party emerge as leaders,” Tillis said. “We need to see which message resonates.
“We haven’t even had Thanksgiving. The 2022 election is not settled.
“This is not about any one person but about winning the White House. I’ll make a decision once we know who the field of players are. When you look ahead … the world changes dramatically from year to year. We’ll see who stands up and makes a case for the American people.”
Tillis said he is concentrating on the election in Georgia, where he is supporting Republican Herschel Walker in his runoff against incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock to try to get the Senate split at 50-50.
“We need time to settle down the [presidential] field and focus on Georgia,” he said. “We can have that discussion at the first of the year.”
A ‘red wave’ in NC
Tillis didn’t say he thought Trump had as much negative influence in the midterm elections, as some in his party have suggested.
“North Carolina was a red wave,” Tillis said, referring to the judicial races and supermajority in the state Senate and gains in the House. “Ted Budd won [in the Senate race] with twice the margin I won by two years ago.
“We focused on the things that people in North Carolina want us to focus on: economy, crime, education.
“Other states had different priorities to focus on. The election to me was a push because we retook the House. The narrative that we would pick up four or five seats, I never thought that would happen.
“Now we have to look at every state and see why our message didn’t resonate.”
Why no nationwide red wave?
Civitas Poll, a right-leaning organization supported by the John Locke Foundation, conducted a post-election analysis and found that Democrats were able to capture voter confidence on other critical issues that matter to the electorate, such as crime, health care, the environment and abortion. The poll included a sampling of election-day voters (84.7%), mail-in voters (9.6%) and early in-person (5.7%).
Democrats and Republicans split North Carolina’s 14 congressional districts – a noteworthy change from the 8-5 edge the GOP had held – and Civitas found that 48.3% of voters surveyed said they believed Democrats communicated their plan and vision “well,” compared to 39% of Republicans.
The poll found that the percentage of voters who believe the country is on the right track had improved by 10 percentage points in the past month, up to 32% but most of them believe the American economy is currently in “poor” shape (52.5%).
Hudson re-elected to leadership
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Moore County), who on Nov. 8 was elected to represent the 9th District that includes Randolph County, has been elected chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Hudson currently represents the 8th District.
“The American people have just entrusted House Republicans with a majority to be the last line of defense in stopping the disastrous Biden administration and saving our country from out-of-control spending, inflation, energy prices, crime and an open southern border,” Hudson said in a release. “Working together with our leadership team and the entire conference, I am confident we can build on our successes and learn from missed opportunities to expand our majority in 2024.”
The release says this places Hudson fourth in line to be House speaker. He named former NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison to lead his transition.
Rep. Hardister re-elected to leadership
State Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Whitsett), recently re-elected to a sixth term in House District 59, was chosen by acclimation on Friday to serve a second term as the majority whip in the House. Hardister, 40, said in a release that this is his fourth term in the whip role, meaning he has held that job longer than anyone.
Hardister’s announcement described the position as being responsible for counting votes, tracking attendance and assisting the speaker’s office with setting the schedule for the session.
“It is an honor to have earned the trust of my colleagues to continue serving in this position,” Hardister said in a release. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance common-sense legislation in the House. We will focus on economic development, job creation, education, public safety and other issues that are important to the people of North Carolina.”
The Republicans in the House also re-elected four others to leadership positions: Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), Speaker Pro Temp Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), Majority Leader John Bell (R-Greene) and Deputy Majority Leader Brenden Jones (R-Tabor City). Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) was voted conference chair, and Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan) is joint caucus chair.
- Budd announced that Jonathan Felts, his senior adviser, will serve as chair of his transition team. Felts has served with Budd since Budd was elected to Congress in 2016. “We want to hit the ground running in January, and we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Budd said in the release. “We want to get the best folks we can to serve the people of NC in our DC and NC offices and I’ve asked Jonathan Felts to work with my existing team to lead the effort to make that happen.”
- Controversial Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Henderson), who lost his re-election in the 11th Congressional District to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, has been AWOL in Washington and perhaps even has moved to Florida. Cawthorn did emerge Tuesday at Palm Beach, Florida, for Trump’s election announcement. Edwards announced that any residents in the district who needed immediate attention could contact his office in Raleigh.