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NC House Speaker Thom Tillis warns GOP about overreach

By John Frank
jfrank@newsobserver.com

House Speaker Thom Tillis issued a warning last weekend to his fellow Repubicans about overreaching with their supermajority power.

“I was the GOP minority whip in 2009,” he began in a Facebook post. “My job was to get conservative Democrats to help us defeat liberal legislation. The Democratic leaders, heavily influenced by their most liberal members and far-left groups, could not resist the pressure to move too far to fast. They did not compromise and they went too far.

“They got out of step with the citizens of NC and they lost their majority as a result. It was their lack of discipline that laid the groundwork for Republicans to have House/Senate super majorities, a GOP governor, and (lieutenant) governor,” he concluded. “Our lack of discipline will lay the groundwork for their ascendency and if they succeed we will only have ourselves to blame.”

What generated the post is unclear. A Tillis spokesman declined to elaborate and answer specific questions. “Speaker Tillis was simply recapping what occurred under Democratic leadership before Republicans won a majority in 2010, and pointing out that the Republican majority should learn from the mistakes of Democratic leadership of the past,” spokesman Jordan Shaw said Monday.

The post came days after a Republican lawmaker criticized Tillis for not supporting a constitutional conservative agenda and delaying firearm legislation. Rep. Larry Pittman later apologized for speaking so bluntly at a recent tea party meeting but he stood by his point.

His thoughts came the day after he attended the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Oklahoma City and days before the Senate is expected to roll out a disputed tax overhaul plan and a state budget. Tillis is also consider a bid for U.S. Senate in 2014.

Tillis’ post generated more than a 100 comments and 180 “likes” on Facebook. Tillis engaged with a few commenters, saying “Most who insist on a fast and wide approach do not fully appreciate the challenges of a Republican member in a district that leans Democratic.”

See the a few more exchanges (unedited) below:

Commenter Bud Royster to Tillis: “Thom you are being kind. Its Spending, corruption and not listening to will of the people. We need to results driven to help a jobs friendly NC. Much to do.”

Tillis in reply: “Those were factors but those, alone, were not how we won a majority in 2010. We won the majority in 2010 by targeting democrat members in 16 “swing” districts (competitive districts where either a democrat or a republican can win in any given election) and we won 13 of them based almost solely on focusing on the far-left agenda items they were forced to vote on. If they are smart (and they are) they are watching our every step and identifying swing districts with the intent of doing the same. Most who insist on a fast and wide approach do not fully appreciate the challenges of a republican member in a district that leans democratic.”

Bud Royster replies again: “I do remember finding a candidate to throw out the majority leader in my district. Yeah we did it too. We get things done in Davidson Co. This summer we have to replace a 20 plus year house member. It’s going to be fun around here for a while. Stay tuned.”

Tillis replies: “I know that district race well Bud Royster and it is a classic example of my point. The then Majority Leader went too far and got out of step with the citizens in his swing district. The combination of a great candidate, a great ground game, and more than $200,000.00 in direct and indirect financial support made him pay the price.”

Commenter Jason Gowen to Tillis: “And this is why after 20 years I am stepping away from my once beloved party. I started following politics and enthusiastically supported Republicans when i was in elementary school. Now, I’ll keep my registration for primaries until there is a viable libriterian candidate. The power grab on the state level has become wreck less and as a council member for my beloved city I see the writing on the wall and I don’t like it.”

Tillis in reply to Gowen: What “power grab” are you referring to?

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