N.C. Conservatives in a Race to a Runoff

by Meredith Shiner, Roll Call
February 24, 2014

For almost 95 years, the dominant question facing any North Carolinian has been over shades of blue: Duke or UNC.

But in the final months before May’s Republican primary to select a challenger to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, the debate among Tar Heel Republicans has focused on shades of red — specifically, just how conservative their nominee and state should be.

Hagan’s seat marks a prime pickup opportunity for Senate Republicans, who must net six seats in November to win the majority. Recent automated polls have shown a tight race: Hagan’s GOP opponents are ahead by a couple points, and their leads almost always fall within the margin of error.

Though Mitt Romney won the state by a narrow margin in 2012, the Republicans easily regained the governor’s mansion just two years after sweeping the legislature, giving the GOP total control of the state government for the first time since the late 1800s.

So as plum as November seems for the GOP, this spring and summer are shaping up to be a political free-for-all, with several anti-establishment candidates bidding to force state Speaker Thom Tillis from a May 6 primary into a July runoff.

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