Reading the NC Senate Tea Leaves

by | Jun 10, 2013 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features

nc gop convention

Thus far, there are two announced candidates in the North Carolina Senate race – Greg Brannon and Thom Tillis. Both of them gave speeches at the NC GOP convention over the weekend. Over the past few months, people like Cherie Berry, Patrick McHenry, and George Holding have declined runs.

There are, however, still a couple of candidates left to decide. However, by now we know enough to make educated guesses as to what decisions these people will make.

Renee Ellmers – Ellmers attended the NC GOP convention and spoke to delegates, but more than a few people think that Ellmers is ultimately going to decide against a run. A couple of weeks ago, Ellmers stated that her “heart” was in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ellmers’ fundraising hurdles have been another obstacle to a successful Senate race, and in the end she is likely to forego a race in order to preserve her safe House seat.

Virginia Foxx – Unlike most every other candidate on here, Foxx has never released a statement about her interest in a bid, nor has she even publicly acknowledged a potential candidacy for Senate. Until now. Over the weekend, Foxx said she’s been “urged not to say no yet” to a Senate run, but that “it’s a huge mountain to climb in terms of fundraising, and I love what I’m doing”. That’s practically a Sherman statement. Take it to the bank, folks – Foxx is NOT running.

Phil Berger – Berger did not attend the NC GOP convention, which is curious given his status as Senate leader. Jim Cain didn’t attend the convention either, but he’s not a GOP elected official. In the past, a knowledgeable source has stated that Berger is “leaning away” from a run. I think Berger’s out. And why not? After this legislative session ends, he gets to be the most powerful man in Raleigh.

Mark Harris – There’s currently a “Draft Harris” movement underway, and Harris says he’s “encouraged” and “hearing a lot of positive feedback”. We’ve said before that Harris is going to run, and he will. His base will be the social conservatives within the party, and he might split the vote with a Tea Party challenger.

Jim Cain – Now this is the BIG question mark. Cain has only released one public statement so far on running. Given his fundraising ability, a Cain entrance would fundamentally alter the dynamics of the race. Unfortunately, we don’t know what Cain is thinking, but we do note that he’s been awfully quiet. Given Tillis’s early entry, Cain might have to make a decision sooner than he planned.

To sum it up – the race is taking shape awful quick. Tillis and Brannon – in. Mark Harris? Count him in. Ellmers, Foxx, Berger? Out. And Jim Cain? A question mark. We simply don’t know.

Hopefully a couple of weeks from now, when PPP polls the state again, the field will be even clearer. Then, we can get a really accurate picture of the race, for the first time. It’s going to be an exciting contest.


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