Hometown paper hammers GOP senator for defending Trump instead of constituents

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The Charlotte Observer criticized North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis for being an untrustworthy Trump ally, saying he 'flips like a fish on a dock.'

Days after his most significant primary opponent dropped out of the race, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) woke up to a scathing editorial from his hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, skewering him for being untrustworthy and more concerned with appeasing Trump than serving the nation.

"He flips like a fish on a dock," the editorial board wrote on Wednesday, two days after Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker announced he would not challenge Tillis for the GOP nomination. The Observer editorial board wondered which version of Tillis would show up now that he no longer faced opposition on his right.

"Will we get the Thom Tillis who pretends to be a moderate, or the Thom Tillis who pretends to be a conservative?" the board asked, saying it was "not sure which is real."

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The board noted Tillis once vowed to vote against Trump's national emergency declaration at the southern border, only to flip mere weeks later following pressure from Trump. That vote enabled Trump to swipe $80 million allocated for North Carolina military families and use it to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The board also cited Tillis' loyalty to Trump throughout the House impeachment inquiry, writing, "Will we get the Thom Tillis who’s proud to work across the aisle with Democrats on bipartisan legislation, or will we get the Tillis who says Democrats are ignoring their legislative duties and trying to reverse the 2016 election with impeachment hearings?"

The board admitted that politicians often cater to their base, but noted Tillis is "uncommonly bad at it."

The board insisted voters in North Carolina were similarly unsettled by Tillis' changing positions. "That's why polls have shown that Tillis is trusted by neither moderates nor conservatives," it wrote.

Tillis is up for reelection in 2020 in a state that recently elected a Democratic governor and is likely to be a swing state at the presidential level next year. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) recently endorsed Army veteran and former North Carolina state Sen. Cal Cunningham in the race to take on Tillis next year.

Cunningham "has shown he has the independence and strength to stand up to the powerful and fight for what’s right, which is exactly what he’ll do in the U.S. Senate," Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), chair of the DSCC, said in an endorsement statement.

The Observer editorial board predicted this week that Tillis would continue to show loyalty to Trump above all else.

Republicans "either express fealty, or you risk a presidential tweet and subsequent backlash from Trump supporters," the board wrote.

"For Republicans who value their jobs over their country, the choice is clear," it added. "Tillis is one of those Republicans, regardless of what else he pretends to be."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.