If you haven't heard, North Carolina's U.S. Senate race - particularly the Republican primary today - is kind of a big deal. So says just about every national media outlet writing on politics this week.
Our Jim Morrill explains what's at stake today as well as anyone (as usual) but other pundits and politicos are weighing in on the Senate race - and one other N.C. race.
The Atlantic's Josh Kraushaar and James Oliphant say electability is trumping purity in North Carolina, which is exactly what the GOP establishment hoped for with its backing of N.C. House speaker Thom Tillis:
Tillis is the prototype of an establishment candidate. The onetime PricewaterhouseCoopers partner-turned-ladder-climbing-state-legislative-leader is a Republican donor's dream, and he's got the fundraising results to prove it. He has ties to Wall Street and the business community, political experience, and a strategist's sensibility: He led the successful GOP effort to retake the General Assembly in 2010, giving Republicans unified control of state government for the first time in more than a century. And Tillis is disciplined. He is consistently on message, never straying into dangerous waters. In short, Tillis, with his pragmatic streak and country-club credentials, represents just about everything Tea Partiers rose up to oppose.
All three of the major candidates in the North Carolina Senate race have been endorsed by Republicans openly mulling 2016 presidential bids: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush backed Tillis, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee supported Harris, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., endorsed Brannon.Of course, none of their presidential ambitions will be destroyed because they backed a losing candidate in a Senate primary. But the results are an indicator of their influence — especially for Paul, who made a last minute trip to the Tar Heel State on Monday to boost Brannon. If Harris beats Brannon for second place, that doesn’t look great for Paul. But if Brannon makes the runoff and spends the next two months bashing Tillis, Paul could get blame if Tillis — who will likely emerge victorious in a runoff — is weakened from those attacks before the general election.
As notable as the ad’s content and frequency, though, is its source. It was created and aired not by one of Justice Hudson’s two opponents in Tuesday’s primary election, but by a group that had just received $650,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, which pools donations from corporations and individuals to promote conservatives in state politics and is now broadening its scope to target judicial races...The costly and fierce primary shows how the revolution in financing political campaigns, with the surging role of “super PACs” and other groups financed by corporations, unions and other interests, has entered what was the quieter arena of judicial elections.