#NCSEN: A conservative write-in campaign?

thom sighIn 2006, Thom Tillis ousted fellow Republican and incumbent John Rhodes in a nasty primary fight for a Mecklenburg County state House seat.  In 2014, Rhodes COULD end up making things very interesting for Tillis as he seeks a US Senate seat.

While in the House, Rhodes made statewide headlines for his efforts in publicizing the ethical lapses and antics of then-House speaker Jim Black (D-Mecklenburg) and his Republican ally Richard Morgan. Morgan lost his bid for reelection in 2006, while Black was convicted and sent off to federal prison on corruption charges.  Rhodes was seen as the catalyst that got that whole ball rolling.  Tillis’ primary challenge in 2006 was seen by many as payback against Rhodes by Black and Morgan allies.

Rhodes had been named Legislator of The Year by Americans For Prosperity in 2005 — just one year before losing to Tillis.

A group of grassroots activists is circulating THIS PLEA for assistance in gathering signatures forrhod Rhodes — now unaffiliated — to be placed on the November general election ballot for US Senate.  According to the linked document, five hundred signatures from registered North Carolina voters need to be gathered by July 22.

We contacted Rhodes by email for comment on the whole signature drive.  Rhodes said he has no involvement in the effort, and that it is being driven by a group of grassroots activists completely separate from him.  He said the 2006 campaign put a bad taste in his mouth about elected politics — and that he has given little thought to throwing his hat back into the ring. Rhodes said he will neither endorse nor fight the signature drive, but will be glad to serve if the people of North Carolina decide to send him to DC.  

Rhodes said he has heard from a number of GOP insiders who have encouraged him to denounce the draft effort.  He told me:

“They say this will kill the GOP’s chances at retaking the Senate.  It’s not just about replacing Hagan, a woman with a D next to her name, with a guy who has an R next to his name.  It is about changing the method for doing business up there in Washington.  People need to keep that in mind.”

Write in campaigns for the US Senate are tough. Republican senator Lisa Murkowski did it in 2010 in Alaska — after losing her bid for renomination. In 1954, then-Democrat Strom Thurmond got elected to the US Senate as a write-in candidate in South Carolina.

While the odds of a Rhodes victory may be slim, there may be other factors at play.  There is a sizable faction of disgruntled conservatives who did not support Tillis in the primary.  Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh offers one option for disaffected conservatives to park their vote and show their displeasure with Tillis.  Rhodes may offer another option.  If the Rhodes write-in effort gathers enough steam, it could force Theam Tillis to start paying a little more attention to their right flank. 

25 comments for “#NCSEN: A conservative write-in campaign?

  1. Chuck Suter
    May 28, 2014 at 8:51 pm


  2. Sam Walters
    May 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    So let me see if I understand this. This John Rhodes whoever he is was exposing corruption surrounding the Speaker, Tillis didn’t like him exposing the corruption and ran against him for breaking up the good ole boys club of Republicans and Democrats, defeated Rhodes, and the Speaker that Rhodes was exposing for corruption went to prison along with others, and now Tillis is the establishment Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. What’s wrong with this picture?

  3. Raphael
    May 28, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Is this a petition to make Rhodes an official write in candidate, or one to actually place him on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate? As I understand it, there is time for either. The latter requires more signatures, but would pull more votes.

    I had also heard talk of people writing in for Brawley, given the despicable hatchet job that Tillis has done on him.

    Write-ins are a tough way to go, but sometimes win, such as with Strom Thurmond’s first election to the US Senate, and this special election earlier this year in Pennsylvania:


    The establishment had lots of choices of candidates who would not be nearly so offensive to conservative activists as Thom Tillis or Renee Ellmers that they could have gone with, but in pushing Tillis they went with a candidate who was like spitting in conservatives’ eyes. He is totally noxious and always has been. It is their fault, especially the arrogant out of state kingmakers like Rove and the NRSC that pushed Tillis upon us. If they want to blame someone for this development they need to look in a mirror. They need to keep their stinking noses out of our primaries and stop meddling.

    I wonder if there will also be a write in or unaffiliated conservative candidate against Amnesty Queen Renee Ellmers? That seems like a project for ALIPAC.

    I am aware that there was a campaign to put an unaffiliated conservative on the ballot if the establishment had managed to take out Walter Jones in the primary. Fortunately Jones beat back those out of state troublemakers of the DC beltway elite, and it was not necessary to put that plan into action. I was not involved in putting that plan together, but it was revealed the day before the primary to me as the Plan B if Jones lost.

    The out of state political bosses like Rove need to be slapped down hard for interfering in our primaries.

    • Raphael
      May 29, 2014 at 12:41 am

      As I read the linked request, this is a petition to get Rhodes recognized as an official write in candidate, rather than as an unaffiliated candidate with his name printed on the ballot as implied in the article. To do the latter would require a lot more signatures.

  4. Myron Smith
    May 29, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Rhodes should run with signatures.

  5. Jim
    May 29, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Apparently we would need over 89,000 signatures before the last friday in june to get another name printed on the ballot. Not likely to happen. The write-in campaign for John Rhodes seems like our best option to send a message.

  6. RMatthews
    May 29, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Are you saying we couldn’t find 89,000 conservatives in NC? No wonder this state has the highest gas tax in the southeast and the establishment is forcing toll roads down our throats.

  7. jr cooper
    May 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Is this the same guy that was going to step forward and derail Tillis’ bid for the Republican nomination? Whatever happened with all that?

  8. RinoHunter
    May 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    So I’m confused…… Do we want Kay Hagan as our Senator? IF so this is the way to do it….. You all are Helping the LIBERALS……

    • Tony Johnson
      May 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Who defines “we”? Would “we” be defined as “we” the Republican party or “we” Conservatives? The two are on different ends of the spectrum anymore. There is no conservative party choice. Hagan or Tillis. What’s the difference? None. Look at the disaster “Tricky Dick Burr” has been. Those two empty suits are poured from the same mold.

    • Raphael
      May 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      You are clearly a different ”RINO hunter” than the one who uses that name on another board and posted in this thread:


      You seem to be more of a RINO than a RINO hunter. If you want to hunt them, it looks like it is for the purpose of kissing up on them.

  9. Don
    May 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm


    • Tommy
      May 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      here, here

    • Brant Clifton
      May 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      collect 500 signatures supporting that — and those votes WILL be counted if they are written onto a ballot. Otherwise, writing that in will be ignored. It will be like not voting in the race.

  10. Jim
    May 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    We can find 89,000 conservatives in nc, but a large percentage of them would not sign a petition because they think that Tillis is a better option than Hagan. I would be one of those people holding my nose and supporting Tillis if it weren’t for his pay-to-play politics and corruption, but I refuse to give my vote to someone who has spent his political career fighting to line his own pockets instead of fighting for what is right just because he has that R next to his name. I will do my part to gather as many signatures as possible for John Rhodes.

  11. jr cooper
    May 29, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    A write-in campaign?

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to elect Brannon as the Republican nominee?

    He was on the ballot and had a campaign and everything. It just seems that would have been much easier than a write-in campaign.

    • Delegate Z
      May 30, 2014 at 12:36 am

      Brannon may not want a write-in bid to preserve some future path in the party. Second place finishers in one race, often pop up in another race a few years later to win based on name recognition and experience.

      Rhodes has little to lose since he’s now unaffiliated and his bridges are thoroughly burned with the NCGOP insiders anyway.

      • Raphael
        May 30, 2014 at 12:40 am

        Also, I seem to recall that under NC election law, once he loses a party primary, he is not allowed back on the ballot under another label.

        • Toxhandler
          May 30, 2014 at 12:50 am

          You’re understanding of the law is correct though I’m not sure if it applies to a write-in effort. As for the insiders supposedly asking Rhodes to disavow…..where were they when Tillis was mounting all these attacks on Rhodes?

          • Raphael
            May 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

            . . . or all those attacks on Bradley, Cook Pittman, and Brawley? And trying to mount them against other conservatives?

  12. jr cooper
    May 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Good luck with the write-in campaign although it does seem a long shot.

    Best way to stop Tillis is a “Tea Party for Kay” campaign. It would be easier to rally the Tea Party members for Kay than a write-in campaign.

    I am sure that Kay would provide organizational help and probably some funding to get things kicked off. I think this would be much easier than a write-in campaign with a candidate with little name recognition. Kay has excellent name recognition and she is the incumbent. Can’t beat that!

    • bobloblaw
      June 1, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      What a moron you are.

  13. qwerty
    May 30, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    by the far the most retarted idea ever proposed…I want what ya’ll are smoking…

    • Raphael
      May 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Nominating Big Government Republican Thom Tillis was actually the most retarded idea ever proposed, but now we are stuck with it.

  14. July 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I am running for US Senate NC from Carteret County. A write in candidate who wants to run and is determined to serve. I am visiting all 100 counties of NC and turning in petitions for each county. Rhodes says he’s not all that interested in serving and is not participating in the write in campaign. The NCSBOE has results showing the signature campaigns, check it out.

    (click on drop down and see who is serious)
    Barry Gurney write in for US Senate NC

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