Commentary

Charlotte Observer editorial: Thom Tillis is no moderate

Be sure to check out a new Charlotte Observer editorial that’s running this morning in the Queen City and here in the Observer’s McClatchy twin, Raleigh’s News & Observer. In “Thom Tillis the moderate? Be skeptical,” the authors rightfully call out Tillis for his recent, pre-2020 election posturing and pretenses of moderation.

After documenting how Tillis keeps sponsoring bills with Democrats and touting his supposed “bipartisanship” on multiple issues, but then backs away when the chips are down, the editorial concludes with this on-the-money assessment:

This is the problem with Tillis’s move to the center. He boasts of bipartisanship and files bills with Democrats on smaller-ticket issues, but when the big moments arrive, Tillis doesn’t. At least not as a centrist.

So it is with immigration this week. So it was with a bill last year on protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation — a measure that Tillis introduced but has declined to forcefully pursue. Tillis also has been anything but centrist on significant policies Americans support, such as basic gun control measures and protecting Obamacare. He voted against his party only 1.8 percent of the time last Congress, ranking him 95th among all senators, according to ProPublica.

Most importantly, when his country needed Republican senators to stand up to the president’s reckless statements and policies the past two years, Tillis has too often been quiet. In fact, he said this two weeks ago to the Huffington Post: “I’m going to defer to the president on the best strategy, and I would never vote to override a veto on something that the president didn’t think was the best approach.”

We understand the challenge Tillis faces. If he votes against the president on high-profile issues, he risks losing the support of N.C. voters who are passionately behind Trump no matter what. He has apparently chosen a different strategy: Keep those Trump backers happy, but talk a good centrist game in hopes of grabbing enough moderates to win. Will it work? Perhaps. But Tillis should own who he is, and North Carolinians should recognize what he isn’t.

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