#NCSEN: Yawner, Game-changer, or ‘televised snake oil sales pitch’?

snake-oilThe drive-bys are working hard to gin up some interest in tonight’s US Senate debate.  They are trying to sell us on the possibility that this televised event tonight could change the course of the race.  Given the nature of these things — with formats tightly structured via negotiations between each campaign’s operatives and the tight time frame for televised events, we doubt there will be much in the way of fireworks. 

Former legislator and current conservative write-in candidate John Rhodes is predicting the debate will be little more than a ‘televised snake oil sales pitch.’

The consensus among the chattering classes is that no one really knows the two major party candidates, and that the event is more about avoiding a screw-up than scoring points or winning votes.  I tend to buy that.

Though, I am surprised at how many people I’ve encountered — elected and otherwise — who are, let’s say, “less-than-excited” about this election cycle.  The most common pro-Tillis spin I’m hearing is “We’ve got to get rid of Kay Hagan and fire Harry Reid.”   That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the man from Cornelius Huntersville. 

We’ve heard about Thom Tillis’s past jobs as a paper boy and a restaurant worker and an IBM employee.  What we don’t know — or haven’t yet been told — is what heart-felt principles Tillis holds dear and will fight for.yawn

Kay Hagan has been a reliable vote for her caucus in the Senate.  She’s been a loyal foot soldier for Harry Reid.  Harry Reid carries Obama’s water.  In our book, that’s bad.  An awful lot of people don’t profess to caring much about Obama.  But somehow he got reelected two years ago.

Tillis professed to jumping into politics because he wanted a bike trail built in Cornelius.  He served a term on the  town council before primarying incumbent state legislator and conservative stalwart John Rhodes in 2006.  The Tillis campaign criticized Rhodes for being too mean to Speaker Jim Black and not bringing enough pork back home to North Mecklenburg.  Tillis earned some Cs, Ds, and an F from Civitas Action’s conservative rankings before being elected speaker in 2011. (Speakers typically don’t vote.  So they don’t get ranked by Civitas.) 

gcThe Tillis campaign has mouthed some platitudes about being “conservative.”  But, during the primary campaign, he came out in favor of “practical” gun control to keep guns out of the hands of people who have received mental health treatment and criminals.  Giving the clerk at Wal-Mart or the gun store the final say in evaluating whether I am mentally fit to exercise my Second Amendment right is discomforting, to say the least. 

In the legislature, Tillis has voted for alternative energy mandates and coal ash regulations favored by the left-wing environmental movement. The Republican campaign has claimed that their man is against amnesty for illegal aliens. The problem with that is (1) this speech to the Farm Bureau, and (2) his leadership in overriding the watering-down of E-verify. 

The Tillis campaign has assumed the mantle of fiscal conservatism — smacking Hagan for her role in Washington’s fiscal misbehavior.  She has been a bad girl, in that respect. The problem for Thom?  Nearly four years into his speakership, spending outside the state’s general fund is exploding, per-capita debt is climbing, and North Carolina has one of the worst business tax climates in the country.     Also, Tillis trying to strong-arm General Assembly Republicans to push through a bunch of new pork-barrel spending at the end of the legislative session doesn’t help that spin. kaytom

What this all boils down to: We have TWO less-than-palatable choices here from the two major parties.  We have two creatures of government who appear to enjoy tinkering with people’s lives via the bureaucracy and playing with other people’s money.  One really, really, really likes the idea of statism, and the other likes it just a little less.  Both major party candidates have demonstrated they are quite beholden to their high-dollar out-of-state donors and party leaders in DC.

Tillis has not made much of an effort to try and inspire Tea Party-minded conservative voters to rally around him and his agenda.  Who actually knows what his agenda will be?  Whatever Mitch says it is?  I WISH Thom Tillis would hand me a reason to fire up the troops and march proudly into my polling place to vote for him.  He has squandered a lot of precious time he could have used to woo reluctant conservatives.  There’s still time.

But if things end up going badly for Tillis in November, it will be because the Republican did not close the deal with his base.