It’s really hard to take Thom Tillis seriously. When he first ran for the state legislature in a Republican primary, he was a moderate, pro-business Republican in the mold of many Charlotte politicians. He’s come a long way since then. Like his colleague Lindsey Graham, in the space of a few weeks, he’s evolved into one of the Senate’s most hardcore Trumpers. What a difference a primary opponent makes.
Graham famously bashed Donald Trump throughout his campaign for president predicting he would cause the GOP to collapse. Now, he defends the president at every turn, contradicting himself repeatedly and exposing how little we can trust anything he says. He’s Trump’s most vocal defender but Tillis is giving him a run for his money.
For most of the president’s tenure, Tillis kept his head down. Then, in an attempt to assert his independence and show a willingness to stand by core conservative values, he penned an op-ed in the Washington Post criticizing Trump’s decision to issue an emergency declaration to address immigration concerns. When he got pushback from Republicans in the state, he folded and voted for the emergency resolution, contradicting everything he wrote.
Since that hypocritical vote, he’s attracted one primary opponent and the conservative Club for Growth is trying to recruit Representative Mark Walker (NC-06) to challenge him. Republicans in the state are tired of watching Tillis spin like weathervane. They want somebody that they can trust to stand by conservative values. The only thing Tillis seems to value is his political future.
In recent days, his social media content is filled with paeans to the president. Several sound like they were dictated by the White House. In one tweet, Tillis started out “No collusion and no obstruction.” In the next one, he called Donald Trump a “patriot.” In almost every tweet this month, he’s praised the president.
Tillis is now a staunch supporter of building a real wall instead of supporting “physical barriers where they will be effective.” He now believes shifting power to the presidency instead of standing up for the separation of powers he articulated in his op-ed. The once avid free-trader now supports the tariffs that are hurting farmers across the state. The man who supported Amendment One because marriage is too sacred to allow gay people to marry is okay with paying off a porn star for marital indiscretions. No core value is sacred when it comes to currying favor with Donald Trump.
Tillis, like Graham, has hitched his wagon to Donald Trump. After subtle criticisms of the president, he’s sold his values on the open market to the Trumpers who now dominate the Republican Party. To make amends, he’ll tweet shameless praise of the president, hoping for forgiveness for his divergence from the Trump Party line. Republicans should reject Tillis next March and choose somebody who stands for something besides himself.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >