Recent actions by Speaker Thom Tillis have riled eastern North Carolinians. Many wonder why the Speaker of the House would be meddling in their local State House and Senate races. Is he doing it for money? For his ego? Nay, I say. Rather, we must ask the age old question: Cui bono?
To understand why he’s meddling, we have to look at the Speaker’s goals and then figure out how his meddling could help him achieve those goals. It’s like a puzzle. You have to see the big picture on the box before the pieces start to make sense. The picture on the Tillis’ box looks like this:
All this meddling is being done for a reason. Speaker Tillis is trying to build a bridge. A bridge, he hopes, that will carry him from North Carolina to Washington D.C. The trouble for Tillis is that he’s building that bridge on a crumbling foundation, the coalition of so-called moderates or former blue-dog Democrats in Eastern North Carolina, the coalition that kept Marc Basnight in power for more than two decades.
It’s widely expected that Tillis will seek the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat held by Kay Hagan in 2014. He and President Pro Tem Berger are the only names being talked about this early in the process. He’s trying to lock up support in eastern NC among both Republicans and Democrats by playing both sides of the aisle. His strategy is two pronged. It involves (1) the giving of political favors to eastern NC Democratic Reps and (2) encouraging ousted eastern NC Democrats to switch parties and then supporting them in General Assembly races in return for support in 2014.