In February, Senator Thom Tillis wrote an op-ed saying that he would vote against President Trump’s planned emergency declaration for money to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Tillis later changed his mind, but for Garland Tucker the damage was done.
"We’ve had conversations with lots of conservative people around the state, and the level of discontent was there long before the flip-flop on the emergency powers issue," Tucker said.
Tucker says there have been other instances in which Tillis has not supported President Trump.
"I think it was there over spending, I think it was there over his proposal to prevent the president from firing Mueller," he said.
He also said Tillis’ concern over the president’s tariffs is a problem.
Tucker retired in 2016 as CEO of Triangle Capital Corporation, and has written two books, one on the 1924 election and another titled "Conservative Heroes." He is a former fellow at the John Locke Foundation and a board member at the Civitas Institute in Raleigh.
He said he expects the primary to cost up to $6 million. He said he's prepared to spend $1 million of his own money as a "bridge" to get his campaign started before donations come in.
In the fall of 2016, he wrote an op-ed in which he said candidate Trump has “uttered some of the most unkind, disgusting statements ever made by any American politician.”
"It was written first and foremost to convince Never Trumpers to vote with me, for Trump," he said.
Tucker supported Trump only after he won the GOP nomination. He said he supports the president wholeheartedly today.
In "Conservative Heroes," he profiled Ronald Reagan. Tucker says the Reagan of 1984 would support Trump in 2018.
"I think the most important thing would be to look at the issues, the policies," Tucker said. "And I think Trump’s tax reform, his reduction of taxes, his initiatives to cut expenditures, are right out of the Reagan playbook. So I think Reagan would probably be like the rest of us. He would shake his head over some of the tweets made, or some of the things said. But when you look at the policies, I think he would say is right on."
Tillis did not refer to Tucker by name in a fundraising email Thursday, but noted he has an “anti-Trump opponent.”
Tillis’s email said the senator has voted with Trump 94% of the time, and said that it’s one of most loyal voting records in the nation.
On the Democratic side, Mecklenburg Commissioner Trevor Fuller and state Senator Erica Smith have said they are running. WRAL in Raleigh reported Thursday that former state treasurer Janet Cowell, a Democrat, is going to run.