Feminists have made a lot of noise about Thom Tillis referring to Senator Kay Hagan as “Kay,” while she called him “Speaker Tillis” during the first televised Senate debate on September 3. Calling your opponent by his or her first name, instead of their formal title, is an old, old trick in political debates. Pro-Hagan forces decided to jump on the scenario, take advantage of the gender differences, and tie it all into this silly “war on women” meme.
If the Tillis camp listened to me — and, trust me, they don’t — I would have had them move on to other subjects. But a Tillis spokeswoman offered up an, um, “interesting” defense of her man:
[…] “I’d vote for Hagan due to Tillis’ obvious disrespect by calling her ‘Kay’ in lieu of the Senator Hagan… I was raised to respect persons in position whether I agreed with them or not,” Joann Samuels Wood wrote on WRAL’s Facebook page.
I read every comment on WRAL’s post about that debate, this was the only one that was offended by Tillis calling Hagan “Kay,” but it was enough for WRAL to craft a story of sexism.
They left out the fact that Tillis said “Kay” and not “Sen. Hagan” because, according to his press secretary Meghan Burris, Tillis calls everyone by their first name.
“Thom is not keen on pomp and formality, and talks to everyone on a first name basis,” Burris told WRAL. “He prefers to have everyone call him Thom, but he will be happy to refer to her as ‘Senator Hagan’ if that is her preference.” […]
Oh, really? THAT is news to a few folks I talked to who worked with Tillis on a daily basis on Jones Street. It also doesn’t mesh well with the audio linked to this page of Tillis meeting with constituents and colleagues. On the tape, you can hear Tillis referencing “Representative Speciale,” “Representative Pittman,” and “Miss Bubak.” This was a closed-door meeting in his offices — away from the media and the general public. I didn’t hear even ONE first name mentioned.
Again, I think the feminists are grasping at straws here. But I had to call out the Tillis spokeswoman for really stretching things.