NC lawmaker may challenge Sen. Tillis after district redrawn
WASHINGTON (AP) — North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Walker may challenge GOP Sen. Thom Tillis for the party’s Senate nomination next year or might run against either of two GOP House colleagues in their primaries, a spokesman for Walker said Wednesday.
Walker was faced with the decision after the North Carolina legislature redrew the state’s congressional map, following a state court ruling that the previous district lines unfairly benefited the GOP.
Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats. The new map is considerably friendlier for Democrats, and Walker’s central North Carolina district is one of two GOP-held seats that seem likely to be won by Democrats in next November’s elections.
Tillis is seeking a second six-year Senate term. He ran into criticism from conservatives after initially opposing President Donald Trump’s plan to unilaterally shift federal dollars to building his proposed wall along the Mexican border.
Tillis later reversed that stance and has since been endorsed by Trump. A potential conservative challenger for the GOP Senate nomination, Garland Tucker, ended his candidacy this week.
Tillis has reported raising nearly $8 million and has already run TV spots touting his support from Trump.
Walker spokesman Jack Minor said the congressman is also considering challenging fellow GOP Reps. Ted Budd or Patrick McHenry for the nominations in their districts.
He might also retire from politics or decide to wait until 2022, Minor said. That is when Republican Sen. Richard Burr has said he will not seek reelection and when the state is expected to gain an additional House seat because of next year’s census.
“All of these options are on the table,” Minor said.
Walker is a Baptist minister from Greensboro who was first elected to Congress in 2014.
North Carolina has a Dec. 20 filing deadline for congressional candidates, meaning Walker has just over two weeks to make his decision.
Associated Press writer Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.