Republican Thom Tillis has edged out Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for North Carolina’s hotly contested Senate seat.
Hagan was considered a particularly vulnerable incumbent Senate Democrat this cycle, and received some last minute help from former President Bill Clinton. She maintained a very slight lead in the weeks heading into the election with a 1.2 percent edge over Tillis in the Real Clear Politics poll average.
Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina State House of Representatives, emerged as the GOP establishment candidate. Tillis has been hit for his less enthusiastic opposition to Obamacare in the state. He’s remained open to expanding Medicaid in North Carolina if financial controls are in place, and backed building a state exchange years before running. (RELATED: NC Republican Senate Hopeful Backed State Obamacare Exchange In 2011)
Hagan, on the other hand, a first-term Senator who voted for Obamacare and supported the Obama administration’s policies, has been working hard to distance herself from President Barack Obama. Obama is not especially popular in North Carolina, where Gallup’s latest poll out Tuesday found a 42 percent approval rating.
Hagan’s refused to say whether Obama has “done a good job” as president. While Obama lent Hagan his endorsement in a last-minute radio ad Monday night, Hagan’s team didn’t heavily publicize the ad. (RELATED: Obama Endorses Kay Hagan, Who Has No Comment)
While Tillis has dealt with lackluster support from conservatives based on his record in the state legislature, Hagan’s faced an uphill battle based on her much more visible Senate record. She took a hit this fall when records revealed that she missed a classified Armed Services Committee hearing on the threat from ISIS to attend a New York cocktail party fundraiser for her re-election. She missed 27 of 49 public hearings on the Armed Services committee over the last two years.
Hagan’s under investigation over how a company co-owned by her husband received a hefty grant from the 2009 stimulus. (RELATED: North Carolina Investigates Hagan Over Stimulus Money To Husband’s Company)
The hard-fought campaign has brought in some of the most questionable advertising of the midterm cycle, especially when it comes to race. A Hagan surrogate blasted “Uncle Thom Tillis” at a Hagan rally this fall. A Harry Reid-affiliated group made ads claiming that Tillis supported policies that led to Trayvon Martin’s death. (RELATED: Harry Reid-Backed Group Politicizes Trayvon Martin’s Death)