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Republicans choose in Senate straw poll

Senate candidates Ted Alexander, Greg Brannon and Jim Snyder take questions.

Greg Brannon, a Tea Party favorite with the backing of Rand Paul, Ron Paul and talk radio firebrand Glen Beck, won a straw poll for the U.S. Senate nomination during the Henderson County Republican Party convention on Saturday.

Brannon, an obstetrician from Cary, received 66 votes followed by House Speaker Thom Tillis and Charlotte First Baptist minister Mark Harris with 11 each, former Shelby mayor Ted Alexander with seven and attorney Jim Snyder of Lexington with one.
The GOP convention attracted four of the eight candidates for the Republican nomination for Senate at its annual convention and Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, including the top two in polls, Tillis and Brannon, plus Alexander and Snyder. About 125 party members gathered at the Opportunity House to conduct business, listen to speeches and calls to election activism and enjoy a lunch catered by Crystal's BBQ and Grill.


Party members welcomed their new chairman, former Tea Party leader Glen Englram, and vice chair Jason Brown, a sheriff's department lieutenant. Englram stepped up to the top post when chairman Andrew Riddle resigned to run for the Board of Commissioners.
Tillis, who has failed to put any distance between himself and the crowded field, suggested Republican voters should judge him by his enemies. There is a reason organizations aligned with the Democratic Party, he said, have spent $2 million on television spots attacking him.
"They know that I can beat Kay Hagan," he said. "They know if I'm the nominee, in November that they're likely looking at the 51st (Republican) senator in the U.S. Senate."
Although they have faced criticism for it in "Moral Monday" protests and from the Democrats, legislative leaders have enacted much of their platform since taking control of the state House and Senate in 2010.
"I'll do everything I can to fulfill every single promise that I've made in the same way that I have as your speaker of the House," Tillis said.
After delivering a baby at 6:15 Saturday, Dr. Brannon made the trip from the Triangle to the mountains. In his 10-minute remarks, he won applause for assailing the Affordable Care Act, which he said he had read cover to cover, along with the Dodd-Frank Act that regulates the banking industry.
Brannon highlighted the endorsements he has received from the Pauls and Beck, and declared himself the true conservative standing with Reagan in a "McConnell vs. Reagan" battle for control of the GOP.
Former Shelby mayor Alexander said he chose his party when an elementary school teacher explained the difference between Democrats and Republicans.
"She said the Democrats like more government and they like to spend money," he said. "The Republicans like less government and they like to save money. I thought, We don't have a whole lot of money in our house. I think I like to save money. I must be a Republican."
As Shelby mayor, he said, he developed a record of economic development through jobs and tourism, claiming credit for preventing PPG from leaving town, building the Don Gibson Theatre and Earl Scruggs Center and making Shelby the permanent home of the American Legion World Series.
Snyder ran in 2002 for the Republican Senate nomination in a primary that Elizabeth Dole won and has run twice for lieutenant governor.
Snyder, who looks like a cross between President Lincoln and Gregory Peck in "To Kill A Mockingbird," sounded themes from the 1990s and from an Occupy Wall Street rally of the aughts. He opposes NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Act that passed with strong Republican support in 1993 — and says Congress should rein in the banks.
State Sen. Tom Apodaca urged the 125 Republicans at the Opportunity House to focus on races that will determine whether conservative policies stand or fall.
"The most important races we'll have in November are our state judicial races for the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court," he said. "We don't give them much attention but I'm telling you they affect our lives more than Congress in Washington or the General Assembly in Raleigh. They can make decisions that can affect any one of us in here and can set back anything we've done to better North Carolina and move it forward."
"There has not one piece of the redistricting act overturned. What we really do see is everyone going to the court," he said of the Democratic Party and other organizations filing lawsuits to reverse Republican policies. "Instead of the election booth, they're trying to get us in the court and that makes it more important that we have good jurists on the bench."