#NCSEN: Wrong on the money

wrongCarter Wrenn — Richard Morgan’s pre-weight loss doppelganger — has surfaced like Captain Ahab’s white whale to do a wee bit of the GOP establishment’s dirty work in a post on his low-traffic, lightly-read web site: 

The newspaper reporter asked if North Carolina’s Senate Primary was going to be the next litmus test of the Tea Party’s political muscle – and as fast as he could Greg Brannon’s campaign spokesman said ‘Yes’ then added the Primary was just like Senator Rand Paul’s election in Kentucky in 2010 and Senator Ted Cruz’s election in Texas in 2012.

“In those races, he said, you had a candidate that was handpicked and heavily supported by the DC establishment up against a Tea Party candidate supported by the grassroots. In both instances the grassroots candidate won big.”
Now, of course, you can’t fault Greg Brannon’s spokesman for wanting to get a step ahead of Thom Tillis – but what landed in the newspaper was only part of the story.
It’s true Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both won.
But on the way to winning they also raised a lot of money. Rand Paul with the help of his father’s supporters across the country. And Ted Cruz with the help of Senator Jim DeMint, who all but adopted him.
Here in North Carolina, so far, Greg Brannon and Mark Harris, who’re challenging Thom Tillis, have both been noticeably short of cash.
And that’s the big fact in the Senate race: No one, or at best only a handful of voters,  knows Greg Brannon. They don’t know he’s the next Ted Cruz. And he hasn’t had the money to change that. So the real fight in the Republican Primary isn’t between the Establishment and the Tea Party – it’s between Greg Bannon and his empty cash box.
Things must be slower for Carter than I thought.  It’s quite a shift to go from touting Jesse Helms to hanging with Gary Pearce and carrying the GOP establishment’s water.  This man is craving relevance.
First off, let’s take Carter’s “empty cash box” statement.  Anyone who browses over to www.fec.gov and does a simple search can determine THAT is false.  Strike one, big boy.
On one hand, Carter has a point about the fallacy of comparing Kentucky and Texas to North Carolina.  You’re talking about three VERY different states there.  On the other hand, there are about as many similarities between this year’s Senate race and the previous ones in Kentucky and Texas.
Let’s take Texas first.   There were five Republicans seeking the GOP nod.  Lt. Governor David Dewhurst was supposed to wipe the floor in the GOP primary for US Senate — kinda like what everyone is saying about Thom Tillis.  By May 2012, the lieutenant governor — backed by a personal fortune and the support of the entire GOP establishment —  had raised $18,414,254.    Ted Cruz, by that time, had raised $5,834,366.
The latest — albeit dubious — poll from PPP shows Tillis leading the GOP field by 8 points, while 44 percent of voters remain undecided.  Greg Brannon is second with 11 percent. 
By May 2012, Dewhurst was leading the Texas GOP field in all of the polls.  Nine points was the closest margin between Dewhurst and second-place Cruz.   One poll had Dewhurst with 57 percent, Cruz in second at 16 percent.   With the help of national Tea Party and conservative sources, Cruz began to pull even and be more competitive with Dewhurst in fundraising during the campaign’s fourth quarter. 
Let’s look at Kentucky.  Eye doctor Rand Paul was taking on Trey Greyson, the sitting Secretary of State — who had all of the political and financial support of the GOP establishment in DC and Kentucky.  Greyson — like Dewhurst in Texas — was supposed to wipe the floor in the primary.  Just like they’re saying about Thom Tillis this year. 
In late 2009, polls showed Paul lagging a short distance behind Greyson.  In 2010, Greyson was leading Paul in fundraising.  But Paul pulled ahead thanks to some successful online money-bombs spearheaded by some of his father’s political supporters.
Let’s remember — in 2008 — Elizabeth Dole outraised Kay Hagan by $2 million.  (How’d that one turn out?) 
Now — in 2014 — we’ve got some rather startling polling info that ought to have certain establishment orifices puckering up.  Public Policy Polling found that Thom Tillis had the following ratings: 15 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable, 57 percent not sure.   That’s AFTER airing $300,000 worth of TV commercials touting one of the top elected officials in North Carolina state government.
Let’s look at what PPP found for Greg Brannon — 9 percent favorable, 18 percent unfavorable, and 72 percent not sure.  Greg Brannon — with his alleged “empty cash box” has a better unfavorable rating than Tillis, and is in the same ballpark with Tillis on “not sure.”  THAT is comparing one of the top three guys in state government — who can fart and get news coverage —  to a little ol’ OB-GYN in Cary.
I covered the 1996 race between then-congressman David Funderburk (R) and Bob Etheridge.  Funderburk had much bigger overall fundraising numbers than Etheridge.  But if you stripped away the PAC dollars and looked solely at money from people who could actually vote on these two — Etheridge was blowing Funderburk away.  We all know how that one turned out.
Yes — Thom Tillis is posting much bigger overall numbers than the rest of the field.  But if you look at the itemized contributions, you see mostly big dollars from people (1) with interests before the legislature, or (2) living out of state.   A lot like David Funderburk’s 1996 financial reports.  Again, how did that one turn out? 
Paul and Cruz came on strong late in their respective elections.  We have just now entered the crunch time in the North Carolina race.  Very reliable sources inform me that forces close to DeMint, Cruz, and Paul have been gearing up on Brannon’s behalf.  Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have already gone public with their support of Tillis.  So has a good chunk of the NCGOP establishment.  (Though, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and senate president pro tem Phil Berger are conspicuously quiet.) 
It’s ridiculous to go ahead and crown Tillis senator.  There is a lot of action yet to occur.  (Brannon opened four campaign offices this week and started polling statewide.)  
I see Tillis and Brannon rising above the rest of the GOP field.  It will be a blockbuster slugfest along the lines of Cruz v. Dewhurst and Paul v. Grayson.  Lieutenant Governor.  Secretary of State.  Speaker of the House.   Whether it ends the same way remains to be seen.

9 thoughts on “#NCSEN: Wrong on the money

  1. Dr. Brannon is the real deal and it is a compliment that Karl Rove does not support him. I actually believe that Dr. Brannon will do what he says he will do. NC does not need another politician in DC; we need a patriot!

  2. As one who upholds our Constitution as written, I will never vote for another candidate pushed on me by the GOP or Karl Rove. Dr Greg Brannon is my choice and the one who I would campaign for–in a fierce spirit to take my country back.

  3. It simply boils down to turnout of the Tea Party. Are they mad enough at the GOP establishment, are we happy with Senator Burr and all his great wisdom in Washington DC? North Carolina is about to make a very important decision, how conservative the State will be at our highest elected office. Everyone knows that Pat ranks as a RINO and that’s being very kind. Lol even the Rino’s are mad as hell. As one life long elected Republican official told me the Tea Party is crazy as hell and a bunch or nuts, they hurt the GOP, could have been a surprise had it not come from the GOP RINO establishment. Tea Party people are different they go door to door and use social media to get the word out. Can you imagine how it would be in NC if the Tea Party went to DC? Would it trickle down like tax cuts and help our struggling RINO’s. How Red is your Blood NC? We are about to find out.

    1. It is not just the Tea Party which is angry at what the establishment twits are doing. So are many long time GOP grassroots activists. The unanimous censure resolutions on Tricky Dick Burr in several districts and counties, for example, had more than just Tea Party support. They do not want pompous establishment twits in DC like Karl Rove telling us what to do.

  4. Wrenn ought to know better from his own consulting experiences. Sure, his candidate in 2012, George Holding, blasted his way to the nomination with pure money and a smooth “I’ll cut spending” message. That’s one time. But his deep pockets candidate in 2010 got blown out by Bill Randall, who was working with a shoestring budget and an army of grassroots volunteers. And I’m still waiting to see his wealthy client in this year’s 6th District race make any noise and catapult to frontrunner status.

  5. Brannon doesn’t have to OUT raise the field but has to show LIFE to at least be in the game. Fact of Politics……. IF you have a GREAT message Donor will write you checks PERIOD. A Senate race is very different than a US House Race. In a State Wide battle you MUST have NAME ID. NAME ID is expensive to BUY. Radio and TV state wide like the Average Voter must hear or see an ad 15 times for it to sink in. If a Candidate Can’t raise MONEY there is a disconnect with the base somewhere. The Ron PAUL Feel of Brannon’s campaign Drives a way many Super voter Republicans that Vote in Primaries. ( So I have been told) Many of the Paulers are front people for Brannon’s team and Many Grass roots republicans remember these same people supporting mike munger for Gov in 2008 when NC got stuck with dumpling Perdue.

    1. Tillis was recruited into politics by Richard Morgan and Jim Black to be part of their team and run in a primary against solid loyal and conservative Republican incumbent John Rhodes. He sold his soul to be their candidate. If things had gone as Morgan wanted, Tillis would have been a good little flunky of Morgan and Black. Unfortunately for Morgan, Morgan’s backstabbing on conservative Republicans in redistricting, which he instigated, meant the Dems got a majority without his band of sellout Republicans, so they did not need Morgan and his barrel of snakes (one of whom was Tillis) any more.

      In my part of the state, GOP activists who support Tillis are extremely thin on the ground. Most who have taken a side support Brannon. And you might be surprised at those who take the ”anybody but Tillis” side.

    2. I guess that OPENING four OFFICES around the STATE with MORE to COME as well as a PROFESSIONAL website, paid STAFF, and a soon-to-be-ROLLED-OUT ground OPERATION all come FREE OF CHARGE.

      After ALL, being UNABLE to raise MONEY means Brannon is DOING all those things for FREE.

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