WRAL to host US Senate debate

Posted April 14, 2014
Updated April 18, 2014

Please see an update to this story published on April 18

Three of the four leading candidates in the Republican U.S. Senate primary will appear in a debate hosted by WRAL News on April 23. 

Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary, Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant and Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte are among eight candidates hoping to win the GOP nod to take on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a first-term Democrat. The three have accepted WRAL's debate invitation. 

State House Speaker Thom Tillis has declined an invitation to appear. He is leading in polls, but no survey has yet shown him as hitting the 40 percent support he would need to avoid a runoff.

"We have committed to participate in two televised debates, one of which is occurring the night before," said Jordan Shaw, Tillis' campaign manager. "We worked to try to accommodate the WRAL debate but had a long-standing commitment we couldn't break. We're looking forward to participating in the two debates we committed to." 

Brannon, Grant and Harris are also participating in a debate on April 22. WRAL News first invited Tillis by email on Feb. 27. 

The WRAL News debate will be broadcast live on WRAL-TV in the Triangle and WILM-TV in Wilmington. WRAZ-TV Fox 50 will air the debate at 11 p.m. on April 23. The debate will also be available online and available to other broadcast outlets across the state and nation via satellite.

WRAL News extended debate invitations to candidates who reached 10 percent support in polls of likely Republican primary voters.


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  • Sally Bethune Apr 16, 2014
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    Must be a lonely would out there for you and tillis and mccrory when all you have is pope and the Koch bros against all those evil empires you mentioned.

  • Ty Shrake Apr 15, 2014
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    They'll be seated near George Soros and representatives of Organizing For America, Media Matters, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, MSNBC, CNN and the activist 'reporter' from the New York Times.

  • 12345_here Apr 15, 2014

    I am sure Tillis has his reasons, but does anyone really want a leader that can't show up for debate that he has known about for 2 months? This guy doesn't care about broadcasting his message to the voters. He is just letting the Koch brothers buy his election. The less he says the better off he is with all the cash flowing to him

  • Clarence Hill Apr 15, 2014
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    Tillis is not the conservative Republican we thought him to be. He donned his true colors--when he allowed the vegan Animal Rights (ARs) HSUS crowd to dupe him into bulling the HB-930 puppy mill bill to passage in the NC House. I admit some of us animal lovers were "slow learners"--but that doesn't mean we are stupid. Either Harris or Brannon can take Hagan out and do a much better job for NC. Tillis bowwed to the vegan, ARs HSUS lobbying in NC--and he would bow to HSUS in DC

  • Sally Bethune Apr 15, 2014
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    My question is where will WRAL seat Art Pope and the Koch bros. Beside or behind Tillis?

  • Charlie Watkins Apr 15, 2014
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    I hope Tillis not being there will give Brannon more time to expand on all those conspiracy theories on his website. When will the TSA start putting those electric bracelets on us? And tell us more about the op called the Aurora shooting and how it will create mind control.

    I really do love those conspiracy theories. Would WRAL put on maybe a pay-per-view featuring Brannon talking about conspiracy theories. I think it would be a real money maker for him and WRAL.

    WRAL could sell some tin foil hats as a fundraiser.

    I think my next door neighbor is from Mars. Either that or Vermont.

  • Paul Maxwell Apr 15, 2014
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    uh...WHAT? Nobody is going to be able to pull all those puppet stings anywhere near the left. GO HAGAN!!!!

  • Charlie Watkins Apr 14, 2014
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    Maybe Tillis realizes it is all over after Brannon told Glenn Beck:

    "We are pulling back the veil and showing who the wizard is and they are getting exposed,” Brannon said of Tillis, whose conservatism he questioned at multiple points. “We are going to win this without a runoff. There’s no doubt in my mind. The wave is coming.”What is the point if Brannon has it wrapped up?

  • Barbara Sossomon Apr 14, 2014
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    Why will Tillis not show up at ANY debate so far? Surely the other candidates are as busy as he is, but they are showing up.

  • Glock07 Apr 14, 2014

    This will surely be a left leaning, biased event.