#NCSEN: (The gloves come off.) Harris calls out Tillis, compares him to Patrick Cannon

download (33)If North Carolina voters send Thom Tillis to Washington, they could find themselves in the same boat as Charlotte voters who recently elected Patrick Cannon as their mayor.  So says Charlotte pastor Mark Harris — one of Tillis’ opponents in the GOP primary for US Senate– in an email to supporters:

[…] Does Mr. Tillis really believe he deserves no legitimate resistance in a GOP Primary? Apparently he does but unlike Mr. Tillis, I do believe his record and my record are fair game and should be discussed. Our records must be discussed, compared, and investigated- if not, then once elected we have no idea what will happen next. A perfect example of this just broke in today’s news “Charlotte Mayor Arrested on Public Corruption Charges.” Obviously Charlotte voters made a mistake in their mayor’s election, so let’s not do the same in a race when the US Senate majority is on the line.

So while last week was the absolute best campaign week ever for our campaign, it was not so good for Tillis’ campaign. An ethics complaint was filed against Tillis. Multiple news stories reported Tillis embellished his resume. And Mr. Tillis, true to form, blamed his staff for the mishap. Just one problem for Mr. Tillis: That pesky radio interview not so long ago where Tillis himself claimed he graduated from that same college he never attended.

But hey, it makes no difference to me what excuses are offered, we don’t have time nor can we afford excuses. What matters is that all Republicans get the blowback from yet another sparkling example of purposeful misrepresentation or an inexplicable lapse in judgment by Mr. Tillis. And still even more perplexing and disappointing is his ongoing refusal to accept personal [responsibility] for his troubles.[…] 

tillis listenHarris hinted to us and other media outlets that he would be making the character of the state House speaker a major campaign issue.  He has had some tense discussions with Tillis recently, according to an email leaked to several news media outlets:

I received your email late last week, and I found it quite interesting. For instance, in your past campaigns you have never refrained from discussing your opponent’s record, and this is only what I am doing-discussing, when asked, your record as has been published by the news media.

Earlier this month, when we were in Iredell County at the county convention, I specifically heard you say that while the other candidates are “fine people,”all they can do is tell you what they would do if they were elected, but I want you to know what I have done.” Now that the conversation is being held, you call it negative campaigning.[…]

I find it ludicrous the assertion that Robin Hayes or Mike Rusher, or anyone else in my campaign would be attempting to “tear you down.” If anything is found to be doing this it is your own record-nothing made up by the media-nothing made up by me. And if you cannot defend it, or choose not to defend it, that is your prerogative, not anyone else’s responsibility.

Not one thing has been said or released that has not been reported or documented. No one has made up anything about you, unless you are saying that these reporters and editors are in a conspiracy to defeat you, and they have made all this up. But if they are untrue, why have you never disputed them? What has been discussed and will continue to be discussed is fully documented and it is simply your record.

In all honesty, Thom, you have managed to accumulate a list of actions that at the very least show terribly poor judgment, and at the worst, a lack of political character applied to the decisions you made. I believe this is why people are so fed up with politicians and distrust them so. I truly believe our experiences from the Clintons to Obama to Kay Hagan have taught us that character still counts….especially in my home state of NC.

If you had been across the state with me over the last several months, attending the seven US Senate forums I have chosen to attend along with most other candidates, you would know that many, many times someone asks me to tell the difference between us. […]. Your record as an elected office holder is part and parcel of who you are just as my 25 years as a Senior Pastor is part and parcel of who I am. So, when asked that question now, I have begun telling voters that one major difference is that I will never make appointments or confirm appointments based on how much money a person has given me. I will always represent NC and never put my personal well-being above that of our state. I will accept responsibility for my actions, and one will never hear me blame lapses in judgment on my staff. But please understand, I am only going to reference your record that has been disclosed and can be confirmed. I have had a number of people, including legislators, tell me about things you have been involved in or done, but I never have nor ever will even say those out loud, as they are not documented. I have no interest in attempting to do research on you or document additional lapses of character or serious lapses of judgment in public office on your behalf. You and I both know that the Democrats will have a field day with you in a general. One of the reasons I filed for this seat is my genuine concern about who is the best person to defeat Kay Hagan, and to represent North Carolina in the US Senate. If you think your record is a secret and is not to be shared with the public, then you and I have even more differences than you think we have.[…]