Tillis’ Two Dilemmas

Published July 11, 2013

By Tom Campbell

By Tom Campbell, July 11, 2013.

House Speaker Thom Tillis may be the single most important person in state government right now and he’s got some pretty important decisions to make in the next few days…critical decisions that impact our state, but also his own political future. He’s got plenty of people tugging on him, whispering in his ear for support, offering advice, and herein lies Tillis’ dilemma.

He’s like a cowpoke riding a bucking bronco, trying to go the distance with a Republican caucus, most particularly in the Senate, that has a “patience my butt, I’m going to change most everything that has Democratic fingerprints” penchant. There is always tension between the Senate and House but this year is a high water mark. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Tillis don’t get along but there are fissures even among the respective caucuses in both bodies and obvious animus between the Senate and Governor McCrory. The governor has been largely invisible most of this legislative session but suddenly has emerged to play a more assertive role and, while siding more often than not with Tillis’ House, is yet another element in the drama on Jones Street.

The best thing Tillis and the Republicans have going for them is Democrats. The state party is a train-wreck, the Democratic legislative caucus is invisible and noises coming from the Dems sound like whining from sore tail losers. But the Moral Monday movement poses a threat as the continued bungled reactions from Republicans have fueled fires of protest, fires that might turn into a raging blaze.

Women are angry over a disregard for their issues. Teachers and educators are convinced they are being punished through budget starvation and unfair competition that doesn’t have to play by the same rules as do they. Realtors, hospitals and the UNC system feel they have been unfairly targeted. Minorities, the unemployed, the poor and mentally ill know they don’t count in the new power structure of this state, don’t expect much and haven’t been disappointed.

The bottom line: there’s a lot of unhappiness and Speaker Tillis is has two dilemmas. The first and most obvious is bringing this legislative session to a successful conclusion soon, avoiding irresponsible, inflammatory and highly partisan legislation, keeping the factions focused on outcomes while escaping further hostilities.  His task is more difficult because he’s a lame duck and some of his members are already lining up to become Speaker when he steps down after next year’s short session.

Enter the second dilemma. How Tillis personally emerges from this legislative session is critical because he wants to be the Republican nominee to challenge Senator Kay Hagan next year and this session’s record will either boost or hurt his credentials as a leader. Hagan’s seat has a history of one-term occupants and the stars seem to be aligning for a Republican victory if a candidate can corral enough of the party to win the nomination and keep them on the ranch while moving to the political center enough to capture a sufficient number of moderate and unaffiliated voters and women.

Thom Tillis is a savvy politician who doesn’t need reminding how critical the next few weeks will be. He’s carrying a tremendous load right now and many are watching how successfully he deals with his two dilemmas.

July 11, 2013 at 11:07 am
dj anderson says:

LOL, Tom's listing of burdens surely isn't going to lighten the load on Tillis.

I differ with Tom on two things.

1. I know nothing of the man, Tillis, but saying the Senate seat has a history of one term doesn't really mean anything. Kay Hagan is in the seat and that that's enough in an off year election to get her re-elected in my opinion. She's a woman, and a woman will have held the seat, what, 12 years, but again, what does that mean? Well, it means women vote and vote for women. Then, isn't it time for a black Senator from NC? ...or Hispanic? Anthony Foxx could jump from losing in Durham to chief of staff to winning the state? Probably not! Well, maybe we will have to wait for Democrat Anthony Foxx, former mayor of Charlotte and current Transportation Sec. for Obama to run against Burr in 2016, as he leaves DC.

2. The Moral Monday demonstrations are not going to hurt the republicans because they are only helping the Democrats with the can-be-taken-for-granted core vote. Take the media magnet arrests out of it, and the protests with a topic could win me over, but they are not, but are turning me off, and now the lack of leadership has let abortion become front and center. If not for being pro-abortion, Democrats would still be in office.

In any case, Tom has laid out a hard row to hoe for Tillis in the here and now.

July 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm
Bill Worley says:

The Democrats should not think that sitting back and watching the North Carolina GOP self-destruct will be enough to win back control in either the House or Senate. These people were elected by citizens who were fed up with democratic policy and hi jinks. Now is the time for democratic legislators to be putting forward alternate proposals to the vindictive and controlling garbage the republicans are ramrodding thru the GA. If the GOP can claim that they at least tried some new ideas while the democrats did nothing but whine, I think there is a good chance the republicans lose little come the 2014 elections.

July 13, 2013 at 8:29 am
Steve Harrell says:

The definition of a dilemma is the choice between two (2) or more unwanted or tough choices; thus Mr. Campbell's use of the number two (2) in front of the word dilemma in this opinion on Speaker Tillis is not necesaary. Speaker Tillis simply has a dilemma; i.e., between the two (2) choices presented by Mr. Campbell.

July 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm
dj anderson says:

Steve, I read right over those abused words without noticing and I thank you for the English lesson in that I learned something about the precise usage of our language, yet I had read Tom's words without any confusion of his meaning, so it's a win-win in the end, which is no dilemma at all. I suppose dilemma was not the word for Tom to have used at all, much less "Two Dilemmas" in the title?

While some don't care for 'grammar check' comments, I've been given reason to think by this one and appreciate learning something. The invention of the written word, the readable thought, is near miracle for mankind.

Steve, why the use of (2) after the word 'two' in your explanation? I'm hoping that is added clarify, but if that is necessary, then I'm not going to adopt that practice. I'm not efficient away from the home keys. I'm lucky to do as poorly as I do.

Tom, don't get gun shy while typing, wondering if you write right or wrong, just keep the words streaming. Consider only your purpose. You at least know one more person is reading your blog. There are precious few comments made, in part perhaps, from fear of making errors. Don't we learn from errors?