Division within the GOP in NC is well documented. It’s even on display in the GOP primary for the US Senate seat currently held by Kay Hagan. Speaker Thom Tillis, the odds on favorite has the backing of the “establishment” faction, Rev. Mark Harris holds the edge on social conservatives and Greg Brannon still has the support of most libertarian leaning republicans and those who lean TEA.
But Hagan has some significant headwinds of her own. In spite of a money laden ship, stocked with over $6m in cash, she can find little refuge in traditional safe harbors.
1) NC Democratic Party – The state party is complete disarray with in-fighting and potential insurrection at every turn. There are even assertions that the party is broke and that their historic HQ might be for sale soon. The SS Sen. Hagan is steering clear.
2) Unions- Though NC isn’t known for it’s union friendliness (teachers, state employees and a pork processing plant in Bladen County notwithstanding), it would normally be safe for Hagan to weigh anchor for a while there. But unions are now bucking Obamacare publicly, decrying the negative impact it will have on wages. With Hagan’s ship listing towards Obamacare still, this port will be increasingly difficult to navigate.
3) Progressive left – Another difficult task would be taking harbor here. Hagan will have to tack to the middle to win. Sticking with the liberal wing of her party would be risky. Will she be marching with the Moral Monday crowd? She’ll have to find allies somewhere.
4) Complacency – Elizabeth Dole, Hagan’s predecessor, learned the hard way that sitting on a war chest and not responding can cost you your seat. If Hagan sits on her money too long and doesn’t answer the attacks, the needed funds from other groups may dry up. Worse yet, that national democratic senatorial folks could grow weary of her damaged brand. In so doing, they would simply be picking more salvageable races in other states.
5) Issues – This is Hagan’s weakest point. Though supportive of Obamacare, she hasn’t really distinguished herself on any issue of relevancy to NC voters. And it will be tough to define herself outside of that lone issue. She will try with minimum wage, probably attack the General Assembly (of which she was a member), and/or align herself with education after Common Core became confusing and toxic.
6) Obama – The president’s visit to NC was ignored by Hagan. So if she sees his ship on the horizon, she’ll clearly avoid it. This potential safe harbor is one she’s steering clear of for now.
While the GOP primary is underway, Hagan’s ship is sailing in troubled waters. Though far from over, she’s listing, cash laden, somewhat rudderless and sans a course toward friendly waters.