Burr to headline fundraiser for Tillis
Posted September 16, 2013
Updated September 17, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — U.S. Sen. Richard Burr will appear at a fundraiser for state House Speaker Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate campaign later this month.
A source close to Burr confirmed he would headline the event on Sept. 24, which will also feature Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Barrasso of Wyoming. The appearance, which was first reported by The Hill newspaper, the source said, does not constitute an endorsement.
However, it will almost certainly be read as good news by backers of the Mecklenburg Republican. The speaker is the best known, but not the only member, of the Republican field lining up to challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. Already, the Rev. Mark Harris, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Charlotte, has declared he will run with the support of former North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes. In addition, Cary obstetrician Dr. Greg Brannon has announced a bid and has won support from a national tea party group.
As well, state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger is weighing a bid and has said he'd likely make an announcement this month. If he does get into the race, the state's top legislative leaders and two of North Carolina's most powerful Republicans would face off against one another in what almost certainly would be a high-dollar and hard-fought primary.
Burr's participation in a fundraiser could be read as a tentative step toward Tillis becoming the consensus GOP establishment candidate.
"It's nice to be able to have some sort of recognition that Sen. Burr is at least interested in having Thom Tillis as his colleague in the U.S. Senate," said Andrew Taylor, a professor of political science at North Carolina State University. Burr, Taylor said, is unlikely to hold a fundraiser for someone who would reflect poorly on the GOP.
That said, Taylor cautioned not to read too much into the appearance. Appearing at a fundraiser for a fellow politician of the same political party is standard operating procedure in Washington, D.C., and while the $500-per-individual requested donation is a lot of money for everyday people, it's not a large dollar donation in a world when donors can give $2,600 per candidate toward the primary election alone.
Paul Shumaker, a consultant for the Tillis campaign, also confirmed the fundraiser.
"The Speaker has been to Washington and has had a series of meetings with a lot of senators," Shumaker said. "We appreciate they're willing to put their names on an invitation," he said, adding that those types of fundraisers were a necessary part of any U.S. Senate campaign.