Democrats are no doubt playing in the GOP Senate primary, but some of the parallels being drawn may be exaggerated.
Rob Christensen compared Democrats’ strategy against Thom Tillis to what Democrats did in Missouri in 2012 to help re-elect Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. There, Republicans nominated a Tea Party nut who promptly lost to the otherwise-vulnerable incumbent.
Yes, Democrats are running ads targeting Tillis in the primary. Both the Hagan campaign and Senator Harry Reid’s PAC are playing that game.
But Tillis is going to be the Republican nominee. And while I’m no expert on Republican politics, Tillis should win on May 6 without a runoff.
The more plausible strategy is to damage Tillis now, when people are looking at the Republican candidates. And it’s working. The negatives against Tillis are adding up. As Carter noted, the Speaker hurt himself by using taxpayers’ money to pay off staffers who had affairs. Remember Pearce’s Law: the worst wounds in politics are self-inflicted.
Now, it would be sweet for Hagan if Tillis is forced into a runoff. He then has to spend more time and money, as well as take more hits. And he has to decide whether to remain Speaker during this year’s legislative session. If he does, House Democrats should beat him like a piñata.
What’s important is that Democrats are learning to play hardball.