Under the Dome

The election isn’t until 2020, but Tillis has a challenger

Eva Lee
Eva Lee Courtesy of Eva Lee

North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat isn’t up for grabs until 2020, but Sen. Thom Tillis already has drawn a Democratic challenger.

Eva Lee, 51, a tax attorney from Raleigh, filed paperwork on July 28 for her first run for political office.

“We can’t wait. We are dying right now,” said Eva Lee.

Republican Tillis was speaker of the N.C. House before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014, beating Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. More than $100 million was spent on the race.

Lee’s first political experience came in campaigning for Ed Ridpath, who ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 2008. She campaigned in 2014 for Hagan, as well as for Clay Aiken, who ran for Congress. Both candidates lost, and Lee said she worried she was jinxed. That, she said, was why she didn’t campaign for Hillary Clinton last year even though she strongly supported Clinton for president.

But she said Rev. William Barber’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer inspired her and sparked her interest in running.

“We are being called like our forefathers and foremothers to be the moral defibrillators of our time,” Barber said at the convention.

She heard another version of the speech at a Moral Monday protest march. She’s worried about what President Donald Trump’s actions and Congress’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act mean for the country.

Lee opted not to run in a race farther down the ballot that would come sooner. “I will not run in a gerrymandered district,” she said.

Lee said she still has a lot to figure out, including the cost of a campaign.

“People in North Carolina need to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “It’s time to shake hands and work together.”