Thom Tillis, right, with Lindsey Graham (center) and John McCain at a campaign event in North Carolina. Tillis, the current state House speaker, is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.
Oh, the irony of it all.
In one of the nation’s closest and most important U.S. Senate races, North Carolina incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., is up against Republican Thom Tillis, the current speaker of the state House.
Polls show the two in a virtual dead heat, with Hagan’s ties to President Obama’s policies no doubt hurting her in the conservative-leaning Tar Heel state.
But Tillis has his own problems, one of which is his shaky record on illegal immigration and ties to moderate Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who supports amnesty for illegal aliens and Common Core national education standards.
In a recent audit of 10,000 registered voters with questionable citizenship status, the N.C. State Board of Elections found that up to 1,425 registered voters in North Carolina are “likely non-citizens.”
“It’s a travesty that you could have non-citizens negate the votes of citizens in our nation,” said Rep. Chris Millis, one of the Republican state House members who requested the audit.
The 1,425 likely non-citizens won’t be removed from the voter rolls, but if they cast votes Nov. 4 their ballots will be challenged, Millis said.
Pivotal role in close race
The irony of the matter is this: Illegal-immigrant voters could play a pivotal role in a close race, the outcome of which will help determine whether Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate, and the Republican candidate, Tillis, is seen as fragile on the immigration issue. He could even have helped cause his own demise, according to immigration activist William Gheen.
“Tillis is in a position where he may lose the most expensive Senate race in North Carolina’s history because of illegal immigrant voters that he helped to protect as speaker of the North Carolina House,” said Gheen, who lives in North Carolina and heads up Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
“Tillis as speaker stopped every piece of legislation his fellow Republicans offered to try to curtail illegal immigration in North Carolina,” Gheen said.
Tillis may still get elected because of the power of the anti-Obama wind blowing through his state. And even if he loses, the chances are it won’t be because of illegal alien voters, thanks to the efforts of conservative state legislators like Millis, who requested the state audit its voter rolls and flag potential non-citizens.
But if Tillis loses, he very well may be haunted by his stance on immigration issues. His detractors on the right will point to his connections to amnesty-supporting Republicans. They will cite his recent appearance with McCain, Graham and Jeb Bush. Bush even trumpeted amnesty while stumping for Tillis in North Carolina Sept. 24, doing Tillis no favors.
While standing beside Tillis in Greensboro, N.C., Bush said Republicans ought to pass comprehensive immigration reform, also called “a pathway to citizenship” and “amnesty,” if they take control of the Senate, the New York Times reported.
Tillis tried to backpedal from any association with Bush’s views.
“You have to make it clear that amnesty shouldn’t be on the table,” Tillis said at the Greensboro event, referring to how he would deal with immigrants already in the country illegally. “That doesn’t negate any opportunity to provide some with legal status and other things, but you only do that after you seal the borders and you make the problem no longer grow.”
That sounds an awful lot like amnesty to tea party conservatives like Gheen, because the “legal status and other things” Tillis was advocating are likely to mean drivers’ licenses, work permits and all the things an immigrant needs to carry on life in the United States. Hence, the lack of enthusiasm over Tillis’ candidacy and throwing a damper on his ability to get out the conservative vote. If conservatives don’t see enough of a difference between Tillis and the incumbent Democrat, many of them might stay home, indirectly helping Hagan win re-election.
Illegal immigration top concern
A recent Gallup poll found that illegal immigration is now the top concern among Republican voters in the Nov. 4 election.
Written by LEO HOHMANN
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