Republican Thom Tillis is standing on the edge of what it takes to win the U.S. Senate primary without a runoff, a new poll finds, as the race tightens ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted Saturday and Sunday put Tillis at 40 percent, Greg Brannon at 28 percent and Mark Harris at 15 percent. The other five candidates combine for 8 percent and about 1 in 10 Republican primary voters still remain undecided in the race, the Democratic firm found.
To win outright, a candidate needs to top 40 percent. Otherwise, the top two will go to a runoff July 15. The margin of error on the poll is plus-or-minus 3.2 percent.
A week ago, Tillis stood at 46 percent and appeared more likely to win Tuesday. But Brannon’s support jumped 8 percent and Harris saw a 4 percent bump in the final week, pollster Tom Jensen said.
“Nevertheless Tillis looks to have a pretty good chance at getting to the magic 40 percent mark on Tuesday. He’s in the 39-43 percent range with all three major ideological groups that we track – moderates, ‘somewhat conservative, and ‘very conservative’ voters. He has the lead in every section of the state,” Jensen said.
If the race did go to a runoff, Tillis would start at 46 percent compared to 40 percent for Brannon. If Harris were to make a runoff, Tillis starts with a bigger lead, 49 to 34 percent, the poll found.
Inside the numbers, Jensen said 73 percent of the GOP primary voters have seen the Democrats’ negative ads about Tillis and among them his favorability is 47 percent, about 5 percent lower than his overall number. His unfavorable rating also is higher at 38 percent for those who’ve seen the ads compared to 29 percent overall. Tillis is in a dead heat with Brannon among those who’ve seen them.
*** The day before the vote – get a full roundup of Senate race news below in the Dome Morning Memo. And check back later today for the Dome Election Pool contest. ***
Three legislative committees will meet Monday, ahead of next week’s session: at 9 a.m. in room 544 LOB, the Committee on Public Enterprise Systems and Use of Funds; at 1 p.m. in 643 LOB, the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee; and at 1 p.m. in 544 LOB, the Committee on Property Owner Protection and Rights.
They and five others are vying for the chance to take on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, the Democrat incumbent from Greensboro, in November. Read more here.
Thom Tillis and Mark Harris stood far apart as they joined a gauntlet of sign-waving candidates and volunteers greeting the last of the early voters at South Regional library. Read more here.
But with voters going to the polls Tuesday, the expected ideological smack down has fizzled.
The three televised debates more often sounded like a conservative gospel quartet than a battle for the party’s soul; the lack of money for some campaigns precluded insider vs. outsider wars on TV, and much of the national party establishment has lined up behind Tillis. The two major outsider candidates, Brannon, a Cary physician, and Harris, a Charlotte minister, have had a difficult time gaining traction.
“You really had half of the primary that never developed,” said Carter Wrenn, a veteran Republican strategist for former Sen. Jesse Helms and others. “The Harris-Brannon part just never got the plane off the runway.” Read more here.
A member of the local tea party, Kuehl said he was supporting rival Greg Brannon against House Speaker Thom Tillis, whom he considered the front-runner. “I don’t think you can make the runoff,” Kuehl told Harris. But 45 minutes later, after a remarkably forthright conversation with Harris, Kuehl left with a campaign yard sign, ostensibly for his wife. “I wish I would have heard you earlier,” he said as the two men stood to shake hands.
Harris, a Baptist pastor, is leading a last-minute political revival that emphasizes an old-school style of retail politicking that makes him one of most active candidates in the race. Read more here.
The count, released Sunday by the state Board of Elections, shows 279,103 early votes. Most of that – 258,780 – was one-stop voting. The 2010 total was 172,972. Read more here.
Aiken reported disappointing fundraising. Privately, North Carolina Democrats said his campaign spent too much money on initial start-up costs and consulting fees – and not enough on direct voter communication. ...
Of those funds, Aiken spent $57,000 in advertising production and editing costs for a web video and 30-second bio spot, according to his fundraising reports filed with the FEC. A larger chunk of his campaign funds, $87,000, went toward consultant fees and polling. Read more here.
Revenues are now predicted to fall 2.1 percent short of the $20.6 billion the legislature said it needed to carry out this year’s budget, according to a memo written by the General Assembly’s top economist and a state budget official and obtained by The Associated Press.
The adjustment is based in part on April 15 tax filings and other trends related to last year’s tax overhaul and the federal budget agreement in late 2012 that led to higher tax rates from Washington, the memo said. Before April 15, analysts had reported that overall revenues for the first nine months of the year were on track with projections. Read more here.
The search for answers comes as North Carolina’s low teacher salaries get renewed attention. When the General Assembly convenes next week, boosting teacher pay – especially for early-career teachers – will be high on the agenda. North Carolina ranks 46th in average teacher pay.
Also next week, the CMS school board will vote on a budget. Superintendent Heath Morrison wants $27 million from the county to ensure that employees get 3 percent raises. Read the entire Charlotte Observer package on teacher pay here.
The forum – Keeping North Carolina Public Schools Strong – was a first for Raleigh-based Public Schools First NC, a nonpartisan public education advocacy group. It opened with a panel discussion among four state lawmakers that at times received hearty applause and, in the case of Republican Rep. Paul Stam, reluctant applause and growing dissent. Read more here.
In some cases, the fiercest competition for the seat is in the primary because legislative districts are drawn to favor either the Democratic or Republican candidate. And the results will go a long way in determining who ends up helping make laws next year. Twenty-four legislators will be chosen this primary season because the party’s winners will face no opposition in November.
It’s typical for vacant legislative seats to draw a crowd of candidates. But this year, some veteran and influential legislators seeking re-election are facing opponents from their own parties: Read more here.
Bingham said he was made aware of the charges (against his opponent) by the North Carolina Republican Party, which felt it was an issue that needed to be addressed. He also said he understands some people will not be happy about him distributing the flier.
“I didn’t look any of this up, it was brought to me from the GOP in Raleigh,” Bingham said. “They think it is important and wanted to do something about it. I don’t know if it will have a negative impact or not, but in an election you need to know as much as you can about the candidates.” Read more here.
Reaction was swift, with critics accusing lawmakers of intruding into community matters and jeopardizing years of work to protect trees. Read more here.
Wiles is continuing with his campaign, saying that the past is the past. Read more here.
Wake County Commissioners drop raise in teacher pay from legislative agenda. Read more here.
Democrats elect Jeff Jackson to replace former state Sen. Clodfelter. Read more here.
Three Democrats compete for chance to battle U.S. Rep. George Holding. Read more here.
Danville prepares for coal ash spill dredging. Read more here.