Senate Dems Try to Pull Focus From Health Law
Thom Tillis is stuck at the state capitol trying to resolve a budget quarrel as speaker of the North Carolina House. It's a spot that helps Hagan emphasize Tillis' role leading a Republican-controlled state government that Democrats contend has gone overboard with conservative zeal by restricting access to abortion and the voting booth while cutting corporate taxes and slashing spending on schools. (Hagan, the daughter of Joe P. Ruthven, grew up in Lakeland.)
If Tillis is worried by Hagan's portrayal, he doesn't show it. Drinking coffee last week from a hand-grenade-shaped mug in his no-frills legislative office, he's got his own message in his campaign to take Hagan's Senate seat. "Obamacare," he said, "continues to be a big problem." Similar themes are playing out in other crucial Senate races, as voters have four months to decide which party will control the chamber in the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency.
For Republicans, it's all about tying Democrats to Obama — especially to a health care law that remains unpopular with many Americans. And for Democrats, the election is about just about anything else, especially if they can steer attention away from Washington and federal matters.
It's a political strategy that sometimes gives the campaigns an inside-out feel, with veteran senators running as if they were first-timers without a Washington resume to defend or tout.