Tillis will make US Senate bid official next week

Posted May 30, 2013
Updated May 31, 2013

House Speaker Thom Tillis

— House Speaker Thom Tillis will formally step into the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate next week, confirming months of speculation that he was interested in contending for the chance to unseat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. 

Word that Tillis was about to go public with his campaign plans began circulating among his colleagues at the state legislature late Thursday. A source knowledgeable about his campaign confirmed Tillis would file the paperwork needed to announce and organize a bid early next week. Other Republican insiders confirmed that an announcement was imminent. 

Tillis did not return a phone call seeking comment, but he took to his Twitter account early Friday to post a message.

"Friends, I have decided to run for the US Senate against Kay Hagan in 2014. I hope to earn your support," Tillis tweeted at 4:17 a.m.

The Mecklenburg County Republican is in his fourth term at the legislature and is serving his second as speaker of the House. His announcement would position him as the first well-known and politically accomplished contender to enter the race.

Tillis has shown himself to be a prodigious fundraiser, although recent polling shows most North Carolinians don't have either a favorable or unfavorable impression of him.

Thus far, only Greg Brannon, an obstetrician/gynecologist from Cary best known for his involvement in the tea party movement, is the only announced contender. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry recently told the Associated Press she was not interested in a bid. Other potential challengers include Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of Dunn and former ambassador Jim Cain.

The most intriguing potential primary battle might arise if Sen. Phil Berger, the president pro tem of the chamber, decides to enter the race, setting up an intramural battle between the legislature's two top leaders. 

Tillis' announcement will come as no surprise. He has long sent signals that he would run and Tillis allies formed a super PAC last week to support his presumed bid. 

Hagan is finishing her first six-year term in the U.S. Senate. In 2008, she rode a Democratic wave and President Barack Obama's coattails to unseat Republican stalwart Elizabeth Dole, the high point for the Democratic party's fortunes in recent years. Since then, Republicans have dominated the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, taking control of the governor's mansion, House and Senate.

In 2014, the U.S. Senate campaign will be at the top of the ticket.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • free2bme Jun 3, 2013

    Palin and Bachman please. How could anyone feel threatened by them? Bachman is not running again because she knows she does not stand a chance and because of the investigations into her campaign. Palin knows to never run again for office because she burned bridges with the Republican party and most people know she lacks intelligence needed to be a politician or just watch the movie. Wake up "proud black conservative". Come back to the real world.

  • wlbbjb Jun 3, 2013

    I seriously do not know how anyone could ever vote for a GOP candidate again after what they have done in such a short time in control. The results haven't been felt yet but they will and they will impact a lot of my republican friends in a very negative way. Some have already been furloughed.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 3, 2013

    "It will be interesting to see how his campaign spins record and performance. Has Tillis introduced any bills of any noteworthiness?"

    He did manage to give HIS staff raises while denying them for state workers.

  • tracmister Jun 3, 2013

    If Tillis wins the Republican primary, the only question that will remain is how badly he will lose the election.

  • uBnice Jun 3, 2013

    What exactly has Tillis done for the people/voters of NC? What will he campaign on? Jobs?! Smaller government? Education? Leadership...of an out of control GA?!

    It will be interesting to see how his campaign spins record and performance. Has Tillis introduced any bills of any noteworthiness?

  • jackjones2nc Jun 2, 2013

    North Carolina is awakening to radical Republicans like Tillis, and the way they've misrepresented their agenda. NC citizens aren't foolish enough to vote this way again.

  • pappybigtuna1 Jun 1, 2013

    A lot of immature blogs, I have a feeling these are not adults, working people, earners or the big one TAX Payers.

    Hagen is what she is, she is doing exactly the same thing that E. Dole did for the people of NC - in a word "Nothing"
    She failed to perform at her job, she needs to go.

    You people that are fixated on "party line" get a Dem that will do the job or get someone else in the position

    We the People need to take back control of OUR Government

  • Proud Black Constitutionalist May 31, 2013

    "We might as well have Palin and Bachmann. Scary enough for you?"

    @ccsmith1902--Tell me brother, why are libs threatened by beautiful, intelligent female conservative politicians? Is it because they do not exist in your party?

  • kweb1013 May 31, 2013

    Can't wait to get Hagen out of office, all for you Thom!

  • geosol May 31, 2013

    Looking forward to voting against Party Tommy and all REPUBLICANS at every level in the next election. I hope the big money corporations that have been pouring money into REPUBLICAN candidates give Party Tommy as much of their money as possible. This is the same HYPOCRITE that gave huge pay raises to his staff while claiming that "we're broke and can't afford to help the poor and middle class!!!". Anything tied to the current far right REPUBLICAN legislature is doomed to fail at the ballot box.