Thom Tillis: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Thom Tillis, Kay Hagan, North Carolina, Senate


North Carolina State House Speaker Thom Tillis cruised to the Republican nomination Tuesday night in the race for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Democrat Kay Hagan.

Here’s what you need to know about Tillis:

1. He Was the Frontunner

The final poll of the campaign from North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling found Tillis at 40 percent, followed by Greg Brannon at 28 percent and Mark Harris at 15 percent.

2. He Told a Group of Supporters He Wanted to ‘Divide and Conquer’ People on Public Assistance

NC House Speaker Tillis – Divide and Conquer!NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis has a novel idea to take the heat off Republicans for his billion-dollar-a-year cuts to the NC Medicaid program. Get the folks in wheelchairs on Medicaid to "look down on" and resent the moms and kids on Medicaid! Fostering hatred and resentment over who gets health care -…2011-10-11T14:38:26.000Z

Tillis, who was endorsed in the primary by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, made comments in 2011 that his opponents are comparing to Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks, which reinforced the parody of Romney as an out-of-touch elitist.

Tillis said, in part:

What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition that needs help and that we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who chose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on government and say ‘at some point, you’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not taking care of you.’

Tillis went on to say that he may never run for elected office again because comments like those would get him “railroaded out of town,” but that the dividing and conquering had to be done.

Watch the video posted by the North Carolina Justice Center’s Health Access Coalition above.

3. The Race is Projected to be Very Close

Kay Hagan, Thom Tillis, North Carolina, Senate

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan faces a tossup race against Thom Tillis. (Getty)

Hagan, who was elected in 2008 on President Obama’s coattails, is widely considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country. North Carolina is a traditionally red state that Romney won in 2012, and one of the biggest pickup opportunities for the Republicans, who need to gain six seats in order to regain control of the upper chamber for the first time since 2006.’s Senate forecast gives each party a 50 percent chance of winning the seat.

4. Tillis’ Victory Is Being Hailed as a Win for the Establishment

Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, North Carolina, Senate


Tillis rode strong support from the North Carolina and national GOP establishments (including Romney, pictured above) over a field that included Tea Party darling Greg Brannon, an obstetrician backed by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Tea Party favorite and possible 2016 presidential candidate.

5. Tillis Easily Avoided a Runoff

Though final vote totals aren’t yet in, projections are that Tillis will easily surpass the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Had he been forced into a runoff against Brannon, the PPP poll suggested it would have been a close race.