North Carolina’s soon-to-be-senior U.S. senator, Republican Thom Tillis, seems to taking a more assertive role in state GOP politics now that he’s well into the second year of his second term of office.
In years past, Tillis has been conspicuous in his unwillingness to lead or buck some of the party’s more outrageous characters — most notably former President Trump, whose allies at one point seemed poised to mount a challenge against Tillis in the 2020 GOP Senate primary. In one noteworthy example from the Trump years, Tillis performed what a Washington Post columnist termed a “remarkable flip-flop” on Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” in order to help fund his border wall — first, by explicitly criticizing the scheme and then running for cover with his tail between his legs after receiving pushback from the Trump wing.
The indications of the senator’s newfound assertiveness surround his ongoing efforts to target hyper-controversial fellow Republican and loyal Trump sycophant, western North Carolina congressman, Madison Cawthorn.
On Monday, WRAL.com reported on a new GOP attack ad targeting Cawthorn:
FEC documents show the ad, “Madison Cawthorn’s Lies,” was paid for by Results for NC PAC, which is aligned with another sitting Republican, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.
Today, WRAL.com is reporting that Tillis is calling for an investigation into whether Cawthorn has been guilty of insider trading:
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is calling for an investigation into fellow North Carolina lawmaker U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn over allegations Cawthorn may have engaged in insider trading related to a digital asset named after a joke targeting President Biden.
The allegations surfaced Tuesday in the Washington Examiner, which quoted multiple watchdog groups questioning whether Cawthorn, a first-term U.S. House of Representatives member from the western part of the state, had insider knowledge when he bought the “Let’s Go Brandon” coin, a digital asset that trades for fractions of a penny.
Tillis and some other prominent Republicans are supporting a primary opponent of Cawthorn’s — state Senator Chuck Edwards — in the May 17 primary.
In the weeks ahead, it will be fascinating to see if other Republicans follow Tillis’s lead and/or whether his actions provoke any kind of blowback from the party’s far right wing — the group that comprises so much of the the base of Cawthorn’s (and Trump’s) support.