The recent comments by Rep. Renee Ellmers might shed some light on the intentions of former ambassador Jim Cain, who so far has made ambiguous remarks concerning the Senate race. The comments came when Ellmers was asked whether she was planning to make her own bid.
Ellmers did not announce her plans, but she did note that she knew “where she was leaning”. In the past, she said that her “heart was in the House”. These are not the comments of someone who is planning a Senate bid. What Ellmers said next, however, was revealing. Asked on who she might support if she passed on a race, she said: “I got a chance to meet Jim Cain, and I want to sit down with him. I think he’s interesting. There are some positives there.”
First of all, it’s very unusual for a potential candidate to float names while they’re still considering a race. That Ellmers is saying good things about Jim Cain is further evidence that she’s not a candidate. Until now, Cain has been a question mark – but no longer. Now, Cain has to be considered a more likely candidate than Berger, Ellmers, or Foxx.
If Cain enters the Republican primary, then the outcome of the race will truly be unpredictable. The coalitions of both the establishment and the Tea Party will be split – the establishment between Tillis and Cain and the Tea Party between Harris and Brannon. This four-way split increases the chance that none of the candidates will win the 40% required to avoid a runoff.
In other Senate news, yesterday was the deadline for second quarter fundraising. For the two announced candidates in the race, it’s a crucial test. A hefty total for Tillis could help in warding off a Cain challenge. An underwhelming number probably increases the chances of Cain entering the race. As for Brannon, his number will help us figure out whether he’s a real contender – or truly a fringe candidate. Expectations are low for Brannon, so if he surpasses them then that will garner some much-needed momentum for his campaign.
For the most part, we know who’s in the Senate race and who’s out. All we’re waiting for is announcements on the part of the potential candidates. After that, the field will be fully formed – and the race will be on.