“Harry Reid has been terrible,” said Larry Richie, 65, a local tea party activist. “There have been a hundred bills passed by the House and he won’t let them up for a vote. If Republicans get control, at least maybe some of those would get sent to the president’s desk.”
Richie supported the more-conservative Greg Brannon in the GOP primary. Like many voters who gathered Sunday night for an event with Tillis, he said he still has qualms with the candidate -- but he sees GOP control of the Senate within reach.
“Tillis wasn’t really the Republican who I wanted, but I’ll vote for him,” said Richie.
In more than two dozen interviews and casual conversations, voters consistently invoked the names of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid well before that of incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan – if they mentioned Hagan at all.
“She’s just a puppet for Obama,” declared Eddie Frank, a 63-year-old army veteran who attended the event with his 90-year-old father. “I’m voting against her because of Obama, basically.”
In fact, when pressed to number Hagan's flaws, there seemed to be just one figure that enraged these voters: She has, they say, voted with President Obama 100 percent of the time.
While they would be willing to support a Democrat, they said, the fact that Hagan has never voted against the president’s agenda angers them.
“I put this on Facebook last night: We changed our clocks last night, and on Tuesday we’ll change our senator,” Frank boasted.
Moments later, he enthusiastically relayed the anecdote to Tillis, who slapped him on the shoulder and let out a hearty belly-laugh. “I like that one!” he said.
The Davie County GOP headquarters was filled with dozens of Republicans – most older, and many veterans – gulping down sweet tea and spoonfuls of thick chicken stew. They said their biggest concerns were immigration and national security. “With Harry Reid in there, we can’t get anything done,” said George Snyder, 68, a Vietnam veteran who had a bright “Take back the Senate 2014!” button pinned to his leather jacket. “What Obama has done to the country, it’s just disgusting.”
As Tillis moved through the room, he told them they were right: their vote Tuesday wasn't just a vote against Kay Hagan. “We’ve just got to get rid of Harry Reid,” he assured one woman, a mother of two, as she moved in for a hug. “It’ll take everyone in here, but we’ll get em.”