So far, Thom Tillis is having a pretty good week. Not so much for what he’s done, but for what his opponents have failed to do. Nobody in the GOP primary seems ready to mount much of a challenge except Greg Brannon. And poor Greg Brannon can’t seem to get out of his own way.
Brannon seems to be a kind of happy idiot. He reminds me of Rob Lowe’s character on “Parks and Recreation.” He almost always looks upbeat but can’t seem to exploit the good news and can’t tamp down the bad. This week, a jury found that he misled investors and owes them more than $250,000. Then, WRAL reported that Brannon owed back taxes to Wake County. Nevertheless, Brannon has vowed to carry on.
He quietly filed for the Senate yesterday and, in all probability, his current problems won’t hurt him in the primary. His core supporters are true believers who will support his him and his Tea Party message regardless of what he does. Most primary voters will never know about his financial problems unless one of his opponents spends the money to educate them and that’s not likely. It may kill him in a general election bid, but he’s probably unelectable anyway. So Brannon will stumble on.
Preacher Mark Harris has been virtually non-existent. He filed for the Senate on February 10, but nobody really noticed. Apparently, he received the endorsement of the National Organization for Marriage this week, but didn’t make too much of it. His twitter feed is boring and he’s not engaging supporters. Most of his fire is aimed at Hagan and at some point he will need to contrast himself with Tillis and the other GOP candidates if he hopes to gain any traction.
None of the other GOP candidates has made much of a splash yet. Heather Grant and Ted Alexander have both filed but neither got much attention for it. For these candidates, the old saying that only press you are guaranteed is the day you announce and the day you win or lose is proving true.
Tillis, for his part, is still raking in the money and establishment endorsements. Most of his opponents have filed with little fanfare while Tillis is biding his time. He’s continuing to act like he’s the anointed one and nobody is really crying foul except at the forums he’s skipping.
Conventional wisdom had Mark Harris emerging as the anti-Tillis, but there’s little evidence of that right now. Brannon has made the most waves and has the most active social media campaign, but his appeal is pretty limited. There’s still plenty of time and March will likely be a more lively month in the GOP primary, but if somebody is going to mount a serious challenge to Tillis, he or she needs to start sooner than later. His war chest is only growing and nobody is forcing him to spend it.
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 >