Tillis Primary Challenger Backs Out of Race

Garland Tucker cites 'insufficient' donor contributions

Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) / Getty Images
December 2, 2019

North Carolina businessman Garland Tucker has ended his bid to primary Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) just months after launching his campaign.

Tucker, who made millions as a co-founder of business development company Triangle Capital, dumped more than $1.2 million of his own money into the race, but struggled to attract outside support.

"I cannot continue to fund the campaign personally at the level of the past 7 months," Tucker wrote in a Monday letter to supporters.

With Tucker out of the race, Tillis campaign manager Luke Blanchat said the freshman senator will now focus on the eventual Democratic nominee.

"With our potential primary challenge behind us, it's now time to turn our attention to building the diverse coalition necessary to defeat whichever radical, liberal nominee the Democrats put forward in March," Blanchat said. "Senator Tillis and our campaign will do so by continuing to work tirelessly to share with voters across the state his strong record of working with President Trump to make life better for all North Carolinians."

Since filing as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission in May, Tucker's business record with Triangle Capital has come under fire. Though he is a longtime critic of government spending, his businesses took out hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed Small Business Administration loans during the Obama administration.

Tucker pulled out of the race one day after the Washington Free Beacon revealed that his company invested $12 million in Dick's Last Resort, a chain of restaurants accused by customers of "cross[ing] boundaries of discriminatory behavior" and sexualizing underage girls with obscene sayings such as "this chick loves dick."

Tucker's company praised the restaurant's humor, calling it "tasteful."

Tucker blamed his failure to gain support on the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, writing that impeachment "has dramatically sucked the oxygen out of our campaign discussion and greatly curtailed our fundraising ability."

Trump endorsed Tillis in June, and a November Fox News poll showed the incumbent senator leading Tucker by more than 40 points.

Published under: North Carolina