Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016
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Pay No Attention to That Title of Speaker in Front of My Name

As speaker of the state House, Thom Tillis is one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina. But you wouldn’t know it from the Republican’s first ad in the U.S. Senate race.

“In the private sector, businesses are built on accountability,” Tillis says. “But accountability is a foreign language in Washington.” He goes on to couple Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan with President Barack Obama in the ad titled, “Let’s Clean Up Her Mess.”

Tillis, who was elected to the Legislature in 2006 and became speaker in 2011, makes no mention of his title or his political experience at all. The ad takes place in a corporate office and ends with, “Businessman. Conservative.” written in bold red letters across the screen.

Of course it’s not a surprise, considering that legislation coming out of the North Carolina Legislature has been a rallying point for the Democrats, who hope to keep the electorate focused on Tillis’s voting and leadership record throughout the duration of the Senate race.

But it’s also notable because Tillis isn’t the first speaker to conveniently ignore the résumé item.

Last cycle, even though Democrat John Oceguera, who was challenging Republican Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada’s 3rd District, was finishing a dozen years in the state Assembly and was the sitting speaker, his ad “Champion” completely ignored his political office.

The ad talked about him rising to the position of assistant fire chief and featured a slow-motion walk out of a firehouse with a handful of firefighters, as if they were recreating the opening scene in “Reservoir Dogs.”

Tillis isn’t the only candidate this cycle who has been speaker.

Democrat Pat Murphy is running in Iowa’s 1st District, being vacated by Rep. Bruce Braley. Murphy has served more than 20 years in the Iowa House, including a few years as speaker. It’s too early for ads in that race, but Murphy at least mentions his leadership role in the first line of his bio on his campaign website.

In Tillis’s defense, his title is in the third sentence of his bio on his campaign site. It just didn’t happen to make it into the first ad in a campaign that could feature at least a dozen more spots before Election Day.

Mentioning the speakership isn’t necessarily an electoral death sentence. Back in 2008, Oregon Speaker Jeff Merkley noted his leadership role in at least one ad, titled “Burden.” Merkley defeated GOP Sen. Gordon Smith that cycle and is up for re-election this year.

  • bisquit

    There’s a LOT more to the Tillis campaign than his omitting his speakership… his long history of crony capitalism and “pay to play” legislation is beginning to catch up with him and it’s becoming more and more clear that both Democrats and Republicans are backing him for that very reason. .

  • DARgirl

    The fact that Mitch McConnell has endorsed him says a great deal about we North Carolina conservative Repubilicans will vote…NC does not need, or want, another RINO representing our state.

  • flyingfox88

    Why is he omitting his title? Is he ashamed of it? Didn’t he just go fund-raising with Karl Rove, the king of RINOs? I live in Charlotte and won’t go anywhere near this guy if he’s nominated. We already have one RINO Senator. We don’t need another.

  • Christian Hine

    There is another candidate in North Carolina who I think is far and away a better choice. He is a Cary, NC doctor named Greg Brannon. This guy is not a politician and has a tremendous understanding of the proper role of the federal government. I would trust him to go to DC and stand up to the status quo politicians on both sides of the aisle.

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