About a month ago Greg Brannon, dead-set on getting elected to the Senate, was trying to build momentum and gain ground on front-runner Thom Tillis then, out of a clear blue sky, two investors sued Brannon for flamoozling them out of $250,000 and a jury ruled he had to repay the money.
That opened a window for Reverend Mark Harris, who promptly released a poll showing he’d surged past Brannon and was now the one gaining on Tillis then a reporter pointed out a flaw in Harris’ claim – he’d polled the wrong voters.
Everything looked rosy for Thom Tillis until the roof fell in on him too: The press reported he’d claimed he’d graduated from the University of Maryland – when he hadn’t.
Tillis’ campaign changed two websites, changed his official legislative page, and the front runner told voters where he went to college didn’t matter but, then, before the smoke cleared, former Representative John Rhodes slammed Tillis with a broadside: Tillis, he said, had violated state ethics laws by appointing political donors to the UNC Board.
Politicians appointing donors to the UNC Board is nothing new – but Tillis had made an unusual mistake. Trying to smooth out a rough patch that had landed one of his appointees in the soup, Tillis had emailed House Republicans explaining just how much money his nominee had donated. You don’t see that every day.
Then Rhodes (who Tillis had defeated in a primary back in 2006) fired another broadside: Tillis, he said, was a paintballer.
Holding a canister of green paintballs, Rhodes passed out two letters to reporters: One from a farmer near Cornelius, asking Tillis to reimburse him $200 for paintballing his barn. And the other from Tillis back to the farmer, saying, Yes, he was a paintballer but he was innocent in this case.
It was better than a reality show.