The 2014 race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat is set. Thom Tillis will take on Kay Hagan this November. Tillis won the Republican primary last night. He garnered 45 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff.
Tillis' supporters started gathering in a ballroom in uptown just as the results started trickling in. Soon, there were a few hundred supporters on hand, all waiting to hear from the man they believe can take down the junior senator from North Carolina.
By 9:30 p.m., they were restless. By 9:45, Tillis was named the outright winner and the crowd started chanting his name. Just after 10 p.m., Tillis took the stage and the crowd -- wearing business attire or Tillis shirts -- sounded more like the fans at a Justin Bieber concert.
Cell phones and cameras high in the air, the crowd snapped pictures and video while Thom Tillis told them their work was not yet done.
"It’s not the end of the primary, it’s really the beginning of our primary mission, which is to beat Kay Hagan and make Harry Reid irrelevant in American life," Tillis said. "Kay Hagan and Harry Reid are nothing but an echo chamber for President Obama’s worst ideas."
Throughout his victory speech, Tillis made it seem as if his opponent in the general election was not just Kay Hagan, but a three-person Democratic team including Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.
There were plenty of attack ads in this primary. And the so-called mainstream, tea party and more socially conservative voters all had their pick in this race. Mark Harris represented the latter. Last night, he called on the party faithful to rally around the mainstream-backed Tillis. "Each candidate in this primary has been sharpening and strengthening their own conservative beliefs," Harris said in his concession speech. "Our nominee is emerging from the process more prepared than ever before. I believe that."
Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon congratulated Tillis and added, "the key is Ms. Hagan must come home, without a doubt."
As for Kay Hagan, she easily won her primary. The campaign released a memo Monday night that lays out what they call Thom Tillis’ weaknesses.