RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday further injected himself into the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, endorsing House Speaker Thom Tillis ahead of the May 6 vote.
“I’m proud to announce that tomorrow I plan to vote on the ballot for Thom Tillis for U.S. Senate,” said McCrory, who will vote early in Charlotte. “He is a man of incredible integrity. He is a person with incredible experience and a track record of success and he’s an individual who understand business and understands job creation.”
McCrory and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced their support for Tillis at SMT, a sheet metal fabricator just northwest of Raleigh. The company’s CEO, Susan Rothecker, is the mother of a Republican statehouse lobbyist.
The governor called Tillis “his partner” and Tillis called McCrory “his friend,” as they jointly touted legislative achievements under Republican control, such as efforts to cut taxes and improve the economy. “The results are undeniable,” Tillis said, referring to the state’s dropping unemployment rate.
The Republican Party – and its leaders – typically refrain from making endorsements in primary contests. But McCrory, the party’s de facto head, said he felt compelled to speak out.
He stopped short of suggesting the other candidates – notably rivals Greg Brannon and Mark Harris – were unelectable in November, as other Republicans argue. And he deflected a question about whether he was worried about upsetting tea partiers, many of which oppose Tillis.
“There’s not doubt in my mind that Thom Tilis has risen to the top in this interview process,” McCrory said, echoing remarks he made earlier this month. “Thom Tillis has more than passed the audition – he’s the person with the best qualifications needed in Washington, D.C.”
He thanked the other candidates for running, calling Harris a “good friend.” McCrory also pledged to support any Republican candidate that wins. “I think all of them have the possibility to win” in November, he said.