Thom Tillis.jpg

A few of us here have watched the rise of Thom Tillis from Cornelius Town Board member (who first got interested in politics when he advocated for a mountain-bike trail) to N.C. House speaker to U.S. senator.

Now, we watch again as Tillis, who now calls Huntersville home when he’s not in Washington, prepares for what is expected to be one of the most closely watched (and expensive) U.S. political races in 2020.

How expensive?

Well, Tillis’ successful 2014 race against Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was the nation’s most costly ever at that point, with $121 million spent by candidates and outside groups. Look for more – probably much more – this time around as Tillis tries to hang on to his seat while Democrats look at North Carolina as a possible pickup in their quest to retake control of the Senate, as they did in the House in November.

While a few potential candidates – including Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller – have said they plan to make runs in the Democratic primary, the most-likely candidates remain subjects of speculation.

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Charlotte mayor and Davidson College graduate Anthony Foxx is at or near the top of the Democrats’ wish list.

Tillis, meanwhile, with no serious primary challenge expected, appears to be aligning himself more toward the center of the political spectrum in an effort to appeal to moderate voters. Since Jan. 1 alone, his office has distributed at least 15 news releases or statements touting Tillis’ bipartisanism – including (gasp!) – cosponsoring legislation with Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Californian and scourge of conservative Republicans.

So apply your virtual mud flaps. The endless insults, accusations and innuendo of campaign season will be polluting the airwaves again soon.

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