Raleigh businessman and author Garland Tucker officially entered North Carolina’s 2020 U.S. Senate race during an appearance Wednesday, May 8, on Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated radio talk show.
Tucker will challenge first-term incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis in the Republican primary next March.
“I think the two issues that are going to be key in this race — and, really, across the country — are immigration and government spending,” Tucker told Hannity during the roughly six-minute interview. “I’m really looking forward to having a debate with Sen. Tillis because we’ve got some substantial differences on those two issues.”
Tucker explained why he was willing to challenge a sitting senator from his own party. “The starting point for me, I guess, from a personal standpoint, is I’ve been very disappointed with Tillis,” he told Hannity. “It’s primarily on these two issues: immigration and government spending.”
The challenger hammered Tillis’ immigration proposals, which he labeled amnesty for illegal immigrants. “I think on immigration he’s been very, very weak,” Tucker said. “What we need there is a merit-based immigration system once we’ve secured the border.”
Tucker praised President Trump’s economic policies. “The economy under Trump is really phenomenal,” Tucker said on Hannity’s program. “I think what he’s done to get this country back on the right track in the last two years … as a longtime conservative, I would say it’s right out of the Reagan-Thatcher playbook.”
“When I’m elected senator of North Carolina, I’m going to support him 100 percent on what he’s doing with the economy, for sure,” Tucker added.
Tucker also lauded North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-11th District, a leader of the House Freedom Caucus. Tucker said he would not have entered the Senate race if Meadows had decided to challenge Tillis.
The retired chairman of Triangle Capital Corporation, Tucker is making his first run for public office. He served on the board of the conservative Civitas Institute and as a senior fellow for the John Locke Foundation. He’s authored books on the 1924 presidential election and on conservative heroes.
The radio appearance came two days after initial media reports of Tucker’s entry into the 2020 race. On Monday the Tillis campaign issued a statement labeling Tucker an “anti-Trump activist” and accusing him of “assembling an anti-Trump team.” The press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee called Tucker a “wealthy, out-of-touch liberal” engaged in a “quixotic adventure” to take on an incumbent in a primary challenge.
Tucker is the only Republican challenger to Tillis to date. Two Democrats have announced campaigns: state Sen. Erica Smith of Northampton County and former Mecklenburg County commissioner Trevor Fuller. Tillis’ first announced Democratic challenger, Raleigh tax attorney Eva Lee, later decided to run for state labor commissioner instead.