This is a serious indicator that Hagan is ready to take off the gloves and go after her opponent, Thom Tillis (R. NC):In a flipping of the proverbial script, a Senate Democrat facing a tough re-election race used a confirmation hearing of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services, to advocate forcefully in favor of Obamacare.
While Republican senators mostly went through the motions with their anti-Obamacare talking points or outright endorsed Burwell as Kathleen Sebelius's replacement, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) used her time to trumpet the benefits of Medicaid expansion -- and emphasize the downside of not expanding.
Left unsaid, but strongly implied, was that her opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who locked up the GOP nomination earlier this week, had been instrumental in stopping the state from expanding Medicaid under the law.
"Last year in North Carolina, our state legislature and governor decided against expanding the state's Medicaid program," Hagan said as she started her questioning, "and as a result, about 500,000 people who would have qualified for coverage through Medicaid are not now able to do so."
"These are some of the most vulnerable in our society," she said, "who will continue to seek care in emergency rooms and then will leave chronic conditions unmanaged, which we know is detrimental to their health and the economy." - TPM, 5/8/14
Of course Tillis isn't exactly off to a great start, especially when asked about raising the minimum wage:To wit: Mr. Tillis’s campaign is out Thursday with a blistering memo from senior adviser Paul Shumaker making the case against Sen. Hagan. The short version: The Tillis camp plans to make the same argument against Ms. Hagan as she successfully did in 2008 against her predecessor, Elizabeth Dole.
The lines of attack are cookie-cutter Republican talking points in 2014. Ms. Hagan, Mr. Shumaker writes, is a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama, voted seven times to increase the debt ceiling and, in the attack that will appear in every advertisement backing Mr. Tillis for the next six months, voted for the Affordable Care Act and parroted Mr. Obama’s claim that people could keep health care plans they liked.
And there are the standard-issue energy complaints tossed at vulnerable 2014 Senate Democrats: Even though Ms. Hagan may say she’s for building the Keystone XL pipeline, Mr. Shumaker writes, it doesn’t matter because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Mr. Obama have not acted to build it.
Ms. Hagan, the Tillis memo reads, has “proven completely ineffective in forcing Harry Reid and President Obama to move forward with the Keystone energy pipeline that would create tens of thousands of American jobs. When it’s not an election year, Kay Hagan has been a loyal lieutenant for Harry Reid and President Obama. She has failed the people of North Carolina and repeatedly put President Obama’s liberal spending agenda ahead of growing our state’s economic future.”
This comes a day after Ms. Hagan’s camp released the case against Mr. Tillis. While slightly more specific, it too will sound familiar to Democratic attacks against Republicans elsewhere.
In the Hagan camp’s eyes, Mr. Tillis “will be forced to defend his divisive and offensive remarks, his abysmal, anti-middle class record in Raleigh, his newest slew of fringe positions, and his heavy load of ethical baggage.”
The highlights: A bevy of attacks on Mr. Tillis’s tenure as North Carolina state House speaker, during which he shepherded an array of national GOP priorities, including funding cuts to public education and Planned Parenthood, opposing Medicaid expansion and approving voting restrictions Ms. Hagan’s campaign will use to energize the state’s African American voters. - Wall Street Journal, 5/8/14
And of course there's this:
But what would you expect coming from the real Tea Party candidate:Just before Tuesday's primary, new attention fell on video of Tillis saying at a town hall in Asheville, North Carolina, that we have to "find a way to divide and conquer" people who genuinely need government assistance and people who are poor by their own fault.
During an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday Tillis said he could have phrased his remarks better but didn't walk back what he was trying to say.
"The frustration is we have people abusing the system at the expense of us being able to do more at the expense of those who need the safety net." Tillis said. "My point was to say we need to make it very clear, government exists to help those who cannot themselves. And those who can need to let us do everything that they possibly can to let us free up those resources so we can do better things for those who desperately need it." - TPM, 5/7/14
And with Tillis being the face of the NC GOP's extreme agenda, it could actually benefit Hagan:Let’s give the so-called GOP establishment its day to celebrate. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis beat his Republican primary challengers for a U.S. Senate seat Tuesday night, backed by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. So Wednesday is the day most of the media will say Bush won, Rand Paul (who endorsed his opponent) lost, the Tea Party stands defeated and Sen. Kay Hagan is in trouble.
That last part is true, but the rest is nonsense. Far from having lost, the Tea Party has gotten most of what it wanted in Tillis. The House speaker is a leader of the movement to repeal most of the 20th century in North Carolina. He’s a tax-slashing, voter ID-backing, anti-choice extremist who opposes a federal minimum wage. Just to make clear Tillis is no threat to Tea Party ideology, Rand Paul endorsed him before the final votes were counted Tuesday night.
There was little daylight between Tillis and the “official” Tea Party candidate, Greg Brannon. During the campaign, Tillis bragged about leading the charge to refuse expanded Medicaid funding and said he opposed the congressional deal that averted a debt default last October. A fervent backer of personhood legislation, he told a North Carolina paper that he agreed with Brannon that states have the power to ban contraception (back in 1967, you’ll recall, the Supreme Court disagreed.) He presided over a budget that cut the state’s education budget by half a billion dollars, eliminated North Carolina’s earned income tax credit and raised taxes on 80 percent of state residents while slashing top rates. - Salon, 5/7/14
The Koch Brothers and Art Pope will spend big to defeat Hagan so we need to be ready to take them on. If you would like to donate and get involved with Hagan's campaign, you can do so here:Paradoxically, the policy successes of North Carolina Republicans could be a blessing in disguise for Kay Hagan. Because the GOP controls North Carolina state government, the party is vulnerable to be blamed when things go wrong (like a recent $445 million state budget shortfall). The Elon Poll asked those who thought negatively of Tillis this follow-up question: “Why do you have an unfavorable opinion of Thom Tillis?” Responses about his legislative record were the most common mention.
Then there is the recent coal ash spill into the Dan River from a Duke Energy facility. The spill created its own controversy, especially since North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, was an employee of Duke Energy for 29 years. His administration has been accused of lax oversight of Duke Energy and other businesses.
In February the Elon Poll asked registered voters, “How much, if anything, have you heard about the recent accident in which coal ash was spilled into a North Carolina river?” Notably, this question does not connect the spill to Gov. McCrory or Duke Energy. Still, those with knowledge of the spill were 12 points more likely to disapprove of McCrory, even after accounting for other factors. - Washington Post, 5/8/14