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After brief stop for primary, Senate battle wages on

Posted May 7

— Shortly after declaring victory Tuesday night in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Thom Tillis went on the attack against Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

"We're going to take things in the direction that we’ve taken this state – cleaning up Kay Hagan's mess in Raleigh, now cleaning up Kay Hagan's mess in Washington," Tillis said.

The rhetoric was nothing new. Tillis virtually ignored the other seven candidates in the Republican primary in debates and on the campaign trail in recent months, focusing his attention on criticizing Hagan.

"We've been trying to point to Kay Hagan's failures – her deciding vote on 'Obamacare,' her failure to work to get things done on a bipartisan basis – and now we want to go up there and change that in November," he said. "There won't be a break here. We’re working every single day between now and November to prepare ourselves for the win."

The North Carolina race is one of six around the country targeted by Republicans in their effort to win control of the U.S. Senate. National political observer Stu Rothenberg on Wednesday called the race a toss-up after earlier saying that it tilted toward Hagan as the incumbent.

The national spotlight on the race comes with an avalanche of advertising money. More than $6 million has already been spent this year on behalf of Hagan and Tillis, and it's just beginning.

"It's going to be nonstop," William Peace University political science professor David McLennan said. "You're going to hear all the bad things Hagan's done in the U.S. Senate, all the bad things Tillis has done in heading the state House of Representatives."

Most of the spending so far has been by outside groups, but Tillis said he doesn't think the negative ads will play a critical role in the campaign.

"I think those efforts provide almost a form of air cover. They help inform the voters and make people more aware," he said. "I think, at the end of the day, it's the boots on the ground. It’s the volunteers. It’s the tens of thousands of phone calls. It’s the door-knocking. It's all those kinds of things together."

Despite his attacks on Hagan, Tillis maintained that he is waging a positive campaign and blamed Democratic groups for the race's negative tone so far.

"They can't win on their results because their results have been a disaster. So, of course, the only thing they're going to do is make this negative," he said. "We’re going to focus on the results we got in Raleigh and the results that we will do when I get to Washington."

Senate Democrats plan to start airing a new ad backing Hagan on Friday.

Hagan's campaign issued a statement that called the election "a simple choice between two very different records."

"Thom Tillis has spent his time in Raleigh pushing a special interest agenda that has rigged the system against middle-class families," Hagan said in the statement. "North Carolinians know that I am the only candidate in this race who will put our state’s needs ahead of what the special interests want."

Much as Tillis points to Hagan's support of the Affordable Care Act, Hagan highlighted Tillis-led state House moves such as reducing unemployment benefits, rejecting a Medicaid expansion that could have provided health coverage to thousands and passing tax cuts that favor the wealthy.

"My campaign will be working to reach North Carolinians to talk about my track record of results for our state and my pledge to continue putting North Carolina first," she said.

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  • polecat1 May 9, 10:36 a.m.

    "
    "We're going to take things in the direction that we’ve taken this state – cleaning up Kay... View More

    — Posted by Grand Union

    Ain't it the truth...

  • jackjones2nc May 8, 2:56 p.m.

    Tillis is not "senator material". Tillis is not a leader or decision maker.

  • NC_interest May 8, 2:34 p.m.

    Yeah, the GOP has a candidate that doesn't believe in Education , science, math, or telling the truth about where you went to school.

    Hip Hip Hooray.

  • familyandamerica May 8, 10:43 a.m.

    Of the candidates Tillis was the least awful, but that's the very best thing I can say about him. It's sad for anyone who calls themself a Republican that such inferior candidates are the best we can hope for, in large part because their primary goal these days is to increase ignorance sufficiently that they seem in any way viable. Based on his voting record in the GA I can't in good conscience vote for Tillis; he's not a candidate, he's a business asset that's been bought and purchased for the purpose of making more money for large corporate interests.

  • josephlawrence43 May 8, 10:19 a.m.

    Should the headline read "Senate battle RAGES on???

  • arfamr1009 May 8, 9:58 a.m.

    sad that NC republicans would put an establishment elitist on the ballot for november. Greg Brannon was the only candidate beating Hagan in the straw polls. Granted, anyone would be better than Hagan, but we had a chance to get someone better than Tillis also.

  • cooldela1966 May 8, 9:18 a.m.

    And now Hagan will move to the center from the left.
    And now Tillis will move to the center from the right.

    And we will all meet in the middle.

    Then after the election each candidate may return to their starting position. The election will be about which candidate has the most graceful moves.

    It will be like voting on "Dancing with the Stars."

  • Grand Union May 8, 8:14 a.m.

    "
    "We're going to take things in the direction that we’ve taken this state – cleaning up Kay Hagan's mess in Raleigh, now cleaning up Kay Hagan's mess in Washington," Tillis said.

    What mess in Washington or Raleigh can reasonably be blamed on Kay Hagan????? Obamacare? well that seems to now be working pretty well and more people support it than oppose it........and bi-partisanship???? you have to be kidding. The GOP have not been not remotely interested in Bi-partisanship since 2010.

  • tayled May 7, 7:56 p.m.

    Imagine what could be done if instead of giving to political candidates, we use that same money to pay teachers, create job, and help the truly needy?