DURHAM — The five Republican U.S. Senate candidates who spoke at a Durham County GOP barbecue on Sunday all touted the importance of defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, repealing the Affordable Care Act and reducing the federal deficit.
The Republican primary is less than a month away, and state House Speaker Thom Tillis was the only candidate to compare himself to his Republican opponents.
Greg Brannon, Mark Harris, Ted Alexander and Edward Kryn didnt mention each other as they delivered five-minute speeches to about 75 people at the Redwood Ruritan Club.
Im in a unique position as a politician of saying every single promise we made to you, we fulfilled, Tillis said, referring to tax and regulatory reform efforts in the state General Assembly.
Tillis pointed out that hes also the only candidate the Democrats have attacked in television ads.
All these other candidates in the primary are good people, he said. The reason I believe I represent the best opportunity for the U.S Senate to be under Republican control is because the Democrats believe it. ... Theyve been attacking me nonstop for the last four months.
Brannon, an obstetrician from Cary and self-described history buff, is Tillis closest rival in polls. He delivered a speech laced with references to the Constitution and said he wouldnt waver in defending it.
The Constitution has three crimes: treason, piracy and counterfeit. The Fed does all three, Brannon said.
Harris, a Baptist preacher from Charlotte, talked about his life record.
Harris said he volunteered for Ronald Reagans presidential campaigns, held signs at anti-abortion rallies and was leading the fight for the marriage amendment.
Amendment One, passed in 2012, defines marriage as one man and one woman in the North Carolina Constitution.
Alexander, the former Shelby mayor, said he lowered crime and increased jobs in his Western North Carolina town.
He referred to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as criminals and said he would work to clean up Washington and improve the economy.
I did what I said I would do. And thats what I plan to do as your United States senator, Alexander said.
Kryn, a retired physician from Clayton, emphasized the importance of states rights.
With Medicaid, the states have proven they are all individual and have their own requirements that are best met at the state level, Kryn said.
Durham County Republican Jim McKenzie said he hasnt decided whom to vote for in the primary.
The candidates speeches didnt sway him one way or another. Regardless, he doesnt want them to get too aggressive.
People are tired of negativity, McKenzie said.
Thats fine with Tillis.
As he walked to his Toyota SUV, Tillis said he hopes the attacks on him dont get too personal for the sake of the candidate who emerges from the primary.
Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht