WASHINGTON — North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis has secured the Republican nomination for Senate and will face off against Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November.
The Associated Press called it for Tillis, who received 46% of the vote with 43% of precincts reporting. Tillis needed to get 40% of the vote to avoid a costly runoff in July.
The race had been described as a test of the strength of the GOP establishment versus the tea party faction, as Tillis faced obstetrician Greg Brannon, who had the backing of FreedomWorks, the Tea Party Patriots, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Mike Lee. But state Republicans had recently pushed back on the narrative that Tillis was not conservative enough, and in fact, one of the most conservative candidates the state had ever seen.
Paul had made a last-minute swing into the state on Monday to rally support for Brannon, while Tillis had the backing of American Crossroads, the Chamber of Commerce, and Mitt Romney.
Under Tillis the state legislature pushed a number of GOP priorities through the state house including anti-abortion laws, a voter ID law, and educational reforms. Democrats are poised, and have been arguing for months, that Tillis is far too conservative to represent the state.
The race is seen as one of the most competitive in the country.