Politics & Government

Thom Tillis reaches 3-1 fundraising edge over GOP rivals in N.C. Senate race

Thom Tillis
Thom Tillis dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Political action committees representing U.S. Sen. John McCain and the Koch Brothers helped Republican Thom Tillis to a 3-1 fundraising edge over his GOP rivals heading into the final month of their U.S. Senate campaign.

Donations from McCain’s “Country First” PAC and the Koch Industries PAC contributed to Tillis’ total fundraising of $3.1 million, according to a report posted Thursday by the Federal Election Commission.

Reports also show that Republican Greg Brannon, a Cary physician, tapped a national fundraising base in raising a total of nearly $1.1 million.

And Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor, has raised $803,000. He had twice as much cash on hand as Brannon at the end of March.

Heather Grant, a Wilkesboro nurse who took part in this week’s debates, raised a total of $16,540 with the help of a $12,000 loan. None of the other four GOP candidates reported raising any money.

Every Republican trails Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. She has raised $12.7 million, including $3 million from business, labor and ideological PACs. Individual donors included Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, a Hickory native and the New Republic magazine publisher.

In the Republican race, Tillis continued to get help from GOP congressional leaders in the first quarter of 2014. In addition to McCain’s PAC, he also got money from Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s PAC.

Tillis, the N.C. House speaker, has the support of his party’s establishment. He got earlier donations from leadership PACs for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker House John Boehner of Ohio.

This year he also got contributions from Don Beaver, owner of the Charlotte Knights, Belk Inc. Chairman Tom Belk, former Nucor Chairman Dan DiMicco and Marilyn Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle.

Brannon raised most of his money from individuals, many from around the country. Half the money he raised to date came in the first three months of the year.

Brannon also got $4,500 from the Gun Owners of America PAC and $250 from FreedomWorks PAC. The tea party-affiliated FreedomWorks also has spent more than $118,000 on mailing, phone calling and yard signs for Brannon.

Like Brannon, Harris raised half of all his contributions in a first quarter that included a fundraiser headlined by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.