In NC battle for GOP soul, tea party lacks a strong voice

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In NC battle for GOP soul, tea party lacks a strong voice
« on: May 04, 2014, 03:37:09 AM »
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/03/4884856/christensen-in-nc-battle-for-gop.html#.U2XscvldU_g

Christensen: In NC battle for GOP soul, tea party lacks a strong voice

By Rob Christensen
The Charlotte Observer
May 03, 2014

North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary was supposed to be, in the words of candidate Mark Harris, “a battle for the hearts and soul of the North Carolina GOP,” and maybe even the national party.

It was to be a tea party vs. establishment vs. evangelical brawl, and it drew national support along those very lines. The GOP’s possible White House hopefuls for 2016 picked their Tar Heel favorites in sort of a proxy battle.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed House Speaker Thom Tillis, the business/establishment favorite. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul championed fellow tea party libertarian Greg Brannon. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee stumped for his fellow Baptist minister, Mark Harris. Candidate Heather Grant has participated in the debates.

But with voters going to the polls Tuesday, the expected ideological smackdown has fizzled.

The three televised debates more often sounded like a conservative gospel quartet than a battle for the party’s soul; the lack of money for some campaigns precluded insider vs. outsider wars on TV, and much of the national party establishment has lined up behind Tillis.

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