It’s one of the worst kept secrets in North Carolina that state House speaker Thom Tillis aspires to replace Kay Hagan in the United States Senate. But should we, the taxpayers, really be financing the preparatory phase / run-up to his BIG MOVE? Here are a few things to think about:
- ODD BILLS: One of the speaker’s jobs is to provide leadership in overseeing the flow of legislation in his chamber. The state’s economy is still in the toilet. It’s clear some damage control is needed. This session, there have been an unusually high number of , um, “odd” bills actually seeing the light of day — ranging from seeking the establishment of a state religion, to legalizing marijuana, to banning the public display of boobs. (It is our editorial position here that female breasts are a thing of beauty. If a woman so desires to publicly display those objects of beauty, no one — not even THE STATE — should stand in her way.) I asked one of my insider sources in the state House about this phenomenon. Here’s what The Insider said:
“That stuff has been slipping by the speaker. Prior speakers would have clamped down on those things before they even saw the first glimpse of daylight. Thom would have last session. It’s like he’s preoccupied this time around. Perhaps it’s the onset of Potomac Fever.”
- LEADERSHIP (OR LACK THEREOF): When Tillis HAS been clearly paying attention, he’s tiptoeing away from conservative positions and watering-down conservative legislation. I suspect his political advisers have been telling him not to “rock the boat” or do anything dramatic that could be fodder for negative ads or mailers in an upcoming Senate race. But with record debt and unemployment rocking the state, dramatic action from Raleigh is desperately needed. 2010 and 2012 gave the NCGOP an incredible mandate for changing the culture in state government. It’s unlikely the voters are going to maintain their patience with an offering slightly smaller and slightly less corrupt than what the Democrats doled out in prior years. Tillis has term-limited himself. He doesn’t have to sweat over cobbling an agenda together for House Republicans to champion and campaign on in 2014. (Gov. Pat is headlining a fundraiser for Tillis in May. What is he raising money for?) The state Senate has been churning out a thoughtful conservative agenda of reform. It looks like the House is stumbling around, grasping for a purpose or a mission. The chamber’s top leader appears to be focused like a laser-beam on a US Senate campaign, and no one else in the caucus is really stepping up to provide leadership.
In 1996, Bob Dole stepped down as Senate Majority Leader to focus full-time on running for president. (Granted, that didn’t end up going very well for him.) It was the decent, right thing to do. He could not honestly focus on what’s best for his constituents in Kansas, or the Senate GOP caucus, while running for president. Running for president — and the U.S. Senate — takes up A LOT OF TIME. How well is Thom Tillis serving his Cornelius-centered district, state House Republicans, and the people of North Carolina, when he is serving as House speaker AND prepping for a US Senate run?
It’s time to make a choice, Mr. Speaker.