Hagan, a first-term senator, ran ahead of President Barack Obama when he won North Carolina in 2008. This cycle, Hagan is one of the most vulnerable senators seeking re-election.
Republicans do not expect Brannon to give Tillis a strong challenge. He only raised $47,000 in the first quarter, according to online fundraising figures.
Any primary candidate will have to raise significant cash to take on Tillis, cautioned his adviser, Paul Shumaker.
“What it comes down to is having the tools to build identity and recognition for yourself,” Shumaker said. “Right now, the clock is ticking and it’s ticking fast.”
Along those lines, sources also pointed to former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Jim Cain as a possible primary contender.
Cain’s background in the Raleigh business community would help his fundraising. If he runs, “the price of victory” will climb for all the candidates, according to Todd Poole, a former top aide to Foxx.
“Cain will be able to leverage his national contacts and fundraising prowess to outpace the rest of the field,” Poole said in an email. “Some in North Carolina and DC estimate that he could raise between $18-$20 million if he is the nominee.”
The general election will likely attract a large amount of national financial support regardless of who wins the GOP nomination. But it may be still too early to say where that support will go.
“Someone like Cain could cause problems for Tillis, there’s no question,” said one Republican operative. “I think a lot donors are on the sidelines waiting to see who jumps in.”