For State Senate: Jerry Tillman
In effect, whoever wins the May 8 Republican primary for the 29th N.C. Senate seat becomes Moore County’s next state senator, since no Democrats are running.
Three men, from widely varying backgrounds and offering different sets of qualifications, are vying for the nomination. On balance, we join retiring state Sen. Harris Blake, Moore County Sheriff Lane Carter and others in endorsing the candidacy of incumbent Sen. Jerry Tillman.
We take this position with mixed feelings, since a Tillman victory would mean Moore County would be without one of its own in the upper chamber of the General Assembly for the first time in 10 years.
But we and the voters must take into account that retaining the veteran Tillman in office will mean having our own guy in the higher levels of legislative leadership. The importance of that can hardly be overstated in this time of fiscal difficulty as the state grapples with numerous difficult decisions that can have big local effects.
Thrown Into a New District
A word of background is in order. Our county, like many others, has found itself in a new world as a result of the redistricting that the Republican-dominated legislature carried out in the wake of the federal census. Instead of being paired with Harnett County in the 22nd District, we have now landed in a restructured 29th, along with half of Randolph County.
Tillman, who formerly represented all of Randolph and part of Montgomery, has now added us to his reconfigured turf. He faces two Moore County opponents, John Marcum and Tommy Davis, both of whom are newcomers to state politics and, despite whatever other qualities they might offer, would take a long time to build up the kind of influence Tillman already enjoys in Raleigh.
The departing Sen. Blake is a courtly man who has achieved a degree of seniority in the Senate, but he has never been able to convert it into much in the way of power. Though state Rep. Jamie Boles is building his resume in the legislative halls, he needs more time. For better or worse, Moore lost a lot of clout with the defeat of controversial House Co-Speaker Richard Morgan (who is dipping his toes back into politics again this time around as a candidate for insurance commissioner).
Strongest Candidate for the Job
This is a Republican primary in a conservative district, so Tillman’s positions on the issues mostly line up in predictable ways. He generally favors the controversial gas-extraction process known as fracking, though with stringent safeguards. He says he will vote for the anti-gay-marriage Amendment One, though with certain reservations. He wants to lower the gasoline tax further, ease “job-killing” regulations and so forth.
At the same time, he doesn’t come across as a zealot on any of those issues, and he speaks with an admirable degree of candor, open-mindedness and obvious intelligence. A man with a master’s degree in educational administration and a successful career as a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent behind him, he knows his way around a wide range of matters likely to come before the legislature.
All other things being equal, we would lean in the direction of a Moore County resident for this important job. But since all other things are not equal, we enthusiastically endorse Jerry Tillman.
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