With the Republicans' preferred candidate emerging victorious in Tuesday's North Carolina Senate primary, two members of the Tar Heel State congressional delegation have signed on to co-chair the party's 2014 voter turnout operation: Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Richard Hudson.
Republican Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives and viewed as the strongest candidate to face Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November, won a crowded primary with well over 40 percent of the vote, enough to avoid what could have been a dangerous runoff contest.
Burr and Hudson will spend the next six months traveling and raising money to boost Tillis and fund a robust get-out-the-vote effort, dubbed “Boots on the Ground,” that is being jointly managed by the Republican National Committee and the North Carolina Republican Party. The Tar Heel State is highly competitive, having swung Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2010, and only narrowly Republican in 2012.
Burr, a former House member now in his second Senate term, said Tillis “absolutely” has a tough campaign ahead of him against Hagan, telling the Washington Examiner of his fellow North Carolinian’s re-election prospects: “She’s vulnerable but not dead.”
Republicans have to flip control of six seats to win a Senate majority this fall, and North Carolina is considered perhaps the key battleground of the midterm elections. President Obama's poll numbers have been weak in the state, and the Affordable Care Act is unpopular. But Hagan has positioned herself as a pragmatic Democrat and worked the state prodigiously, leaving Democrats confident in her ability to overcome steep political challenges.
The ground game the Republicans will execute in North Carolina is a part of the RNC's overhauled voter turnout strategy that relies on enhanced data collection and analysis and an expanded field presence that is a part of the national GOP's preparation for both the 2014 and 2016 contests.