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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The upcoming U.S. Senate election in North Carolina just got a bit more interesting — and a lot more perilous for Republicans.

On Thursday, Republican candidate Greg Brannon received an effusive endorsement from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), one of the leaders of the Tea Party’s delegation on Capitol Hill.

“Greg Brannon is dedicated to enacting a conservative reform agenda in Congress. He is willing to challenge the status quo and entrenched special interests. And he has pledged to work alongside myself, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others in the Senate to change the way Washington works,” Senator Lee said. “Greg Brannon will be a strong voice for the people in the Senate and I am proud to endorse him.”

Lee is just one of many prominent right-wingers to support Brannon’s campaign. Among others, the obstetrician from Cary, North Carolina is backed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), media personality Glenn Beck, and several Tea Party groups (including the influential, big-spending FreedomWorks).

It’s not hard to understand why the right is coalescing around Brannon, who has spent much of his campaign working to establish himself as the most conservative candidate in the race. But it could create a problem for Republicans who are counting on unseating Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) on the way to a majority in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Hagan is widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation, and she trails each of her Republican rivals in early polling of the general election. But if Brannon captures the Republican nomination, it could give Democrats an unexpected gift. Brannon’s march to the right throughout the campaign has created a target-rich environment for Senator Hagan to attack. Among other incidents, Brannon has:

    • Been caught plagiarizing from Senator Paul’s campaign site (he later apologized and added proper attribution)
    • Called for abolishing SNAP, arguing that food aid “enslaves people
    • Warned that interstate toll roads are close to “fascism
    • Falsely claimed that abortion is linked to breast cancer
    • Been ordered by a jury to pay $250,000 in restitution after misleading investors in a tech startup
    • Addressed a rally co-sponsored by the League of the South, a well-known secessionist group
    • Served as president of an organization called “Founder’s Truth,” which routinely posted blog posts featuring conspiracy theories claiming that the Aurora massacre was a false flag operation, the TSA will soon force Americans to wear shock bracelets, and Intel hopes to implant microchips into your brain, among many others

It’s still far too early to declare that Brannon is the next Todd Akin, but it does seem likely that a matchup with Brannon would give Hagan the best chance to keep her seat.

Brannon would have to win the nomination first, however. North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis currently leads the Republican field, boasting a 5 percent lead over Brannon in the Huffington Post’s polling average of the race. Tillis is also leading the money battle, with over $1 million in cash on hand, according to the most recent data. Brannon reported just $142,329, putting him at a big disadvantage. Still, given the typically conservative character of midterm Republican primaries, endorsements like Lee’s could give Brannon the boost he needs in the May 6 election.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • Dominick Vila

    With the exception of abortion causing breast cancer, most people in the Carolinas love the rest and are likely to vote for Brannon. We have been disappointed by the failure of Democrats to be elected in the South before, and we are likely to be disappointed when we lose a critical seat to keep control of the Senate in 2014. The first thing we have to consider is that what is bizarre for us, is perfectly acceptable to most Republicans, and just in case somebody is unaware of it, the GOP controls most Southern states. Most Southern governors are Republicans and the GOP has huge majorities in the legislatures of southern states.

    • Independent1

      And as you point out Dominick, it’s unfortunate that the GOP keeps holding onto control of these southern red states because GOP governmance doesn’t paint a very rosy picture for the lives of the residents of not only those in the Carolinas, but also a number of the other southern red states.

      It’s the southern red states from NC around to Lousiana (except FL) that lead the nation in sucking welfare from Washington based on the tax dollars paid; several actually lead the nation by sucking more than $2 in welfare aid including food stamp use for every dollar they send to Washington in taxes. And with respect to Romney’s infamous 47% of Americans who pay no taxes, a large portion of that 47% were in fact Republican voters in the southern red states.

      That’s because many of these southern red states also lead the nation in people living below the poverty level with Alabama and Mississippi leading the nation with more than 20% of their residents living in poverty; and once again, North and South Carolina both have more than 15% living in poverty. And because of these states high levels of poverty, several of these red states, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee also lead the nation in infant mortality (babies dying before birth or before their 1st birthday) because of how many of these states shortchange medical services to those living in poverty; North and South Carolina are also in the top 10 with the highest infant mortality rates.

      And it could be that the high levels of poverty is contributing to 4 red states (MS, AL, LA and WV) being the only states in the nation where life expectancy is porjected to be only to age 75 (N and S carolina aren’t much better with an expectancy of living to 77); somewhat short life spans when you consider that there are 9 blue states with longevity projections to 80 and over. And it’s these southern states along with about 10 more with short life expectancies that are a big reason why the longevity of Americans overall ranks 50th when compared to other foreign countries.

      And one last zinger, a number of these red states I’ve mentioned also lead the nation in all forms of violence with Tenn recently surplanting SC as the most violent states in the nation.

      So, as I mentioned in the beginning, GOP governance of these red states doesn’t paint a very rosy picture for living in these southern red states – living there can be hazardous to your health with a shortening of your life span.

      • Dominick Vila

        Good summary. The only thing I can add is that several red states rank at the bottom in quality of education and high school graduations.

        • 4sanity4all

          ….which may be the key to understanding the facts in Independent1’s post, Dom.

          • Dominick Vila

            And the key to understand why so many people vote against their own interests…

      • FredAppell

        Meanwhile their state and county governments fleece them for everything they’re worth. Not much gets done in those states outside of the larger urban areas but their politicians still get paid by the public. Maybe that’s the problem, red states don’t do much for their citizens yet the citizens are still paying taxes and not seeing a value for it. That would foster an opinion that the government is useless. That’s what the Tea Party congress has been trying to pull on all of us the past few years. They think we’re all ignorant enough to fall for their 3rd grade psychology.

        • Independent1

          I really think you have something there; especially with respect to why so many Republicans dislike government; they mostly live in states where the government is much like a government subsidized Italian Mafia replica.

  • dljen

    Brennon has “been caught plagiarizing from Rand Paul’s campaign site.” Oh lordy, how could a gift such as this provide me with my early morning laugh!!! Brennon plageriaizes from the plageriaizer???!!! Then, of course, there’s Lyin Ryan who plageriaizes from a book for his touchy-feely Hallmark moments about the brown paper bag. And, not to be outdone is Snowflake Sarah from the tundra who plageriaizes from an online poem to read at CPAC. Yep, think the Repubs have cornered the market on this!

    • Independent1

      Great Post! Let me just add one more GOP plagiarizer: Mitt Romney during one of the pre-election debates when he plagairized the idea of “binders of women” from a nonpartisan women’s group who showed him some binders they’d put together after he was elected governor of Mass, in hopes that he would use the binders to select women for his administration.
      During the debate he lied about it being his administration that put the binders together for him – when in fact, after the women’s group showed them to him, he never asked to see them again. But then what can you expect from someone who never had a woman above the secretary level for all the years he ran Bain Capital – and who had the fewest women in his administration of any Mass. governor over the previous 100 years

  • midway54

    So, this character has been endorsed by Lee of Utah, Cruz’s disgusting little sycophant almost always at his elbow when Cruz shows up on the Senate floor or on a television media spot. Of course, when a live tv camera is there with these two, often crowding in to get himself shown, too, is Florida’s opportunistic hack, Marco Rubio. who needs to be sent back home after his next election cycle but who likely as a result would run off and become a lobbyist in service of the plutocrats warring against the middle class.

  • Hutch King

    Collectivists attack free enterprise, private property, and prosperity by claiming collectivism as the sole conduit for altruism while accusing individualists of being selfish and greedy.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Why is it whenever the Republicans smell blood in the water, they end up nominating the most clueless individual possible? The farther to the right one of these guys runs, the more time and money he has to spend explaining his words and deeds to the rest of the electorate, especially in a “Purple” state like North Carolina. You don’t tell people that the very government programs they are dependent upon for their economic and personal livelihood are things that must be destroyed and then expect their support. I am surprised that Jim DeMint has not named this guy his heir apparent. Of course, should he do so, that will practically guarantee Hagen’s reelection chances, given DeMint’s growing unpopularity towards the end of his political career.

  • Grannysmovin

    In North Carolina Eighteen percent, 1.7 million live in poverty. Twenty percent have no health care coverage. North Carolina has 12-highest poverty rate in the country – though only a decade ago we were 26th. Over a half-million, last year, participated in the food stamp program. In Robeson County, that included 33 percent of families, the third-highest figure in the nation in counties over 65,000. Read more here:
    North Carolina is ranked 42nd in Education
    Ranks 22rd in Unemployment of 6.9%.
    Perhaps changes are in order North Carolina.

  • howa4x

    WE have relatives in NC and they are they type to vote the Jesus ticket and against their own interests. They are not deep thinkers but are voters. What also will affect the election is what happens with the US attorney’s investigation into the governors administration about being cozy with Duke energy where the governor was employed for the last 30 yrs. Problem is of course Duke had an coal ash pit leak into the river so NC voters may be less likely to listen to a dismantle the environmental regulation GOP mainstay campaign since they have to drink bottled water and will for a long time.

  • terry b

    As long as a full fledged member of the retarded right wins a primary we will always have a chance of keeping a democrat in a seat. Since the majority of republicans seem to be members of this totally fascist group we should maintain a democratic senate. At least I hope. I hate fascism and therefore I have no choice but to vote for a democrat in each election. I don’t like it but this is what the current GOP has created for former independents like myself.

  • bob shipp

    Well, this is the state that took a second rate broadcaster named Jessie Helms and sent him to the Senate….. again and again and again!