PINEHURST, N.C. — The North Carolina Republican Senate primary, less than a month away, has been an unusually low-key affair, with state House Speaker Thom Tillis working aggressively to avoid a runoff against seven lesser-known challengers.
But one of his leading challengers, Rev. Mark Harris, is hoping to stir things up and is planning to repeatedly criticize Tillis’s decision to remain as House Republican leader while running for the Senate. Tillis is able to raise money for his Senate campaign from lobbyists with interests before the state’s General Assembly, but it’s illegal to raise such funds for his state legislative campaigns.
Framing the speaker’s conduct as “pay to play,” Harris suggested the activity was unethical.
“It would have been better judgment for him to step down as speaker. It opens the door for questions of ethics to be raised,” Harris told National Journal, arguing that it could become a glaring vulnerability if Tillis wins the GOP nomination against Sen. Kay Hagan. “If I had one thing to do differently [in the campaign], I would have demanded he step down as speaker in October.”
Tillis has been touting himself as the most electable candidate at Republican events, including a Monday forum at the Pinehurst Resort — home of the 2014 U.S. Open — sponsored by the Moore (County) Republican Women. At the forum, Tillis announced his support today from National Right to Life, a major rebuke to Harris, who is running as the race’s leading social conservative.
If Tillis doesn’t win 40 percent of the vote in the May 6 primary, he will be forced into a runoff, one that would coincide with the next session of the General Assembly, which begins May 14.
“It’s disappointing that instead of uniting conservatives, some campaigns are trying to use desperate and divisive tactics against other Republicans,” said Tillis campaign manager Jordan Shaw. “Thom Tillis will remain focused on uniting conservatives and defeating Kay Hagan, and we are confident that that message will resonate with voters across North Carolina.”
Harris also confirmed to NJ that his campaign would start airing ads this week — his first major ad buy of the campaign.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."