The candidate: North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican The member: Sen. Kay Hagan, a first-term Democrat. The state: In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney carried North Carolina by a 2-point margin. In 2008, Hagan defeated former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican, by 8 points in a favorable year for Democrats. The candidate’s team: Brad Todd of OnMessage Inc. (media), Paul Shumaker (general consultant), Bellwether Consulting Group (fundraising), Public Opinion Strategies (polling).
State House Speaker Thom Tillis predicated he will need $12 million to run against Sen. Kay Hagan, a top GOP target in 2014.
"I think we'll have to raise somewhere between $11 [million] and $12 million, probably somewhere approaching half that before May, before the primary, and then the remainder after the primary," Tillis said in a Tuesday interview with CQ Roll Call.
It's a lofty goal, given that Tillis raised about $270,000 in his first quarter as a Senate candidate. Hagan already has about $4 million in cash on hand as of the last fundraising deadline on June 30.
But Tillis received welcome news this week when state Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger announced he would not seek the nomination for Senate, avoiding a potentially brutal primary between two of the state's top Republicans. Tillis still faces at least two other Republicans in a primary.
Tillis will likely have to spend a chunk of his money defending himself against Democratic attacks. Democrats have accused Tillis of playing a role in a pay-to-play scandal by appointing his political donors to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
"First I think they are tired old arguments," Tillis said of the attacks. "If you take a look at the people who are serving in appointed positions ... they are some of the greatest people in North Carolina. They are successful business people, giving business people. They work in nonprofits and a number of other things, and they also happen to support candidates who are ideologically aligned with them. We’re not going to take the bait of overlooking some of the best people in North Carolina to serve in some of these roles."
Democrats and Republicans view the Hagan race as vital to determining which party will control the Senate next Congress. Senate Republicans must net a total of six seats this cycle to win the majority.
Tillis declined to say who he would support for the GOP's leader in the Senate if he wins in 2014.
"I'm not going to get into that parlor game," Tillis said. "I think if you asked Sen. [Mitch] McConnell right now, he would probably say that we need to both go win our races and then take up that question."
North Carolina's Senate race is rated a Tossup/Tilt Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
This series questions the scores of congressional hopefuls who visit the CQ Roll Call offices each cycle. Responses and questions in the video have been edited and condensed. Have a question for a candidate? Follow us at @RollCallPols to learn about upcoming interviews.
Previous candidate interviews:
- Alaska Senate: Republican Mead Treadwell
- South Carolina Senate: Republican Lee Bright
- Iowa Senate: Republican David Young
- Kentucky Senate: Republican Matt Bevin
- Illinois’ 12th: Republican Mike Bost
- Idaho’s 2nd: Republican Bryan Smith
- Michigan’s 14th: Democrat Rudy Hobbs
- California’s 45th: Republican Mimi Walters
- Iowa Senate: Republican Matt Whitaker
- Nebraska Senate: Republican Shane Osborn
- Minnesota’s 6th: Republican Tom Emmer
- Minnesota’s 6th: Democrat Jim Graves
- Florida’s 2nd: Democrat Gwen Graham
- Pennsylvania’s 13th: Democrat Daylin Leach