In the course of the past few weeks, Thom Tillis has worked to solidify his standing amongst the Trump wing of the Republican Party, insofar as there is any other wing at this point. Unfortunately for him, it looks like a lost cause.
Mark Walker, the prominent conservative North Carolina Congressman, is openly weighing a primary. Some folks on the inside say he isn’t going to do it, and others say he’s 100% in. So time will tell. Either way, politicians enjoy attention and sometimes, enough chatter about a potential run leads one into the race. Mark Walker is the wildcard, and with a three-person primary for the GOP nomination, all bets are off.
Though Walker seems like the more obvious and compelling candidate to primary Tillis, Garland Tucker, the Raleigh businessman, has been mounting quite an effort.
Initially, he seemed like more of a protest primary than a viable candidate. Tucker is different than the average candidate, though. He can self-fund his primary campaign with ease. Carter Wrenn, the veteran Republican strategist advising Tucker, said that the candidate “is capable of funding several million dollars worth.” That’s not a quixotic bid, it’s a proper challenge.
Having the resources to self-fund your primary challenge is always great, but it doesn’t suggest any support beyond your own bank account.
Luckily for Tucker, he also has donor support. In the N&O article about his next fundraiser, numerous big-dollar donors that have supported Tillis in the past are listed as hosts. Though many, if not all, would support Tillis in the general election were he to win, that support is liable to extend only as far as a vote. The purse strings of the affluent Republicans in the state are tightening, at least for Tillis.
The fact that big donors are supporting a primary challenge to Tillis is not a death knell per se, but it surely indicates that a candidate already poised for an extremely competitive general election will have to scale numerous hurdles just to get through his own party’s primary.
Kirk Kovach is a native North Carolinian interested in writing about politics, communication and culture.