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Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

Tillis Expands Lead In Latest Polls, Could Avoid Runoff

Sen. Thom Tillis
Thom Tillis align=left

New polls show Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis pulling ahead in the crowded Republican primary election and near the threshold to avoid a runoff election in June

Thom Tillis is the North Carolina Speaker of the House, a front-runner who has struggled to pull away from the rest of the field. Three weeks ago, the firm Public Policy Polling showed him in the lead with 18 percent of the vote, but still within the margin of error of second-place Greg Brannon. But the polling firm’s latest results, released today, show Tillis has more than doubled his share of the vote to 46 percent.

Geoff Skelley, associated editor at the University of Virginia Center for Politics election analysis website, says the jump makes sense.

“Voters are paying more attention, and most of the ads that are running in North Carolina are either coming from Tillis or those backing him,” says Skelley. “I think that explains a lot how you see this jump in the polls for him.”

Tillis has received backing from Republican party leaders including Karl Rove and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Federal Election Commission data shows outside groups have spent $1.8 million supporting Tillis, dwarfing the about $100,000 for Brannon, who’s a Tea Party candidate.

A poll conducted by SurveyUSA confirmed Tillis’ upward swing last week, showing him with 39 percent of the vote. If Tillis earns more than 40 percent of the vote, he would bypass a runoff and move straight to the general election.