Is Team McCrory issuing political ‘hits’ on Senate leaders?

patIt sounds like something out of one of The Godfather movies, or the final days of Nixon.  But the reports we’re getting make that headline look like a real possibility.

Late last week, SOMEBODY was conducting push polling via telephone in the districts of senators Tom Apodaca, Bob Rucho, and Harry Brown. Sources familiar with the matter tell me the effort appeared to be quite coordinated — with a uniform set of questions differentiated only by changing the name of the senator in question from district to district.

What do those three have in common, other than being senior leaders in the Senate’s GOP majority?  All three have recently been linked to unflattering comments about the governor in the drive-by media.

I turned to some of my better-connected political wise men (and women) to shed a little light on this.  I spoke to one veteran GOP operative who had this take:

”Seriously.  These are safe Republican districts.  Why would the Democrats bother with spending that kind of money there?  All three of these guys have gotten under the skin of arguably the most thin-skinned man in North Carolina, who also happens to hold one of the most powerful positions in North Carolina right now.  This is the governor and his team throwing down the gauntlet. This is the political equivalent of the horse head in the bed.”

A Jones Street source had this to add: ap

“I would not be surprised if that polling gets dropped in the hands of some key individuals across the state who end up filing for a Senate run with a campaign treasury full of all kinds of shady soft money.  You know the bad part about primarying these guys?  Those three raise a lot of money that gets shared with senators in much tighter races.  Making these guys fight off a well-funded primary challenge could end up costing us some other seats in 2016.”

I spoke with a half-dozen folks well-connected and well-versed in the ways of Raleigh.  To a person, they all saw the fingerprints of Team McCrory on this one.

Take this info and connect it to our earlier story about senator Jerry Tillman.  We got word that a Moore County GOP operative, who happens to be VERRRRRRRRRRY CLOSE to Gov. Pat, was beating the bushes for a potential primary opponent for Tillman — who happens to represent Moore County, and is the senate’s majority whip — in 2016.

Our sources informed us that one of the first recruitment calls went to Rep. Jamie Boles, who represents Moore County in the House.  (Sources close to Boles confirmed for us that the legislator DID get called by the McCrory ally and was asked to run for Senate.  The Boles camp says their man is not interested in running for Senate as long as Tillman is an incumbent planning to seek reelection.)