Who is Thom Tillis? Thom Tillis (Thomas Roland Tillis) is a 60-year-old American politician who has been the U.S. Junior Senator from North Carolina since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, he served in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2006, and was president in 2011. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014, beating Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan by a wide fellow. He is seeking re-election in 2020.
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As speaker of the state House of Representatives, Tillis supported restrictions on abortion and a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He led the Republican effort to block The expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina and, in the Senate, repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He initially opposed Trump’s national declaration of urgency to divert funds to a border wall, but ultimately voted for it following pressure from his party.
Tillis was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Margie and Thomas Raymond Tillis, a boat designer. He was the oldest boy of six children, with three older sisters. By 17, his family had moved 20 times and Tillis had never attended the same school in consecutive years, living in New Orleans and Nashville, among others.
After graduating from high school in 1978, Tillis left home to find a job. He then attended Chattanooga State Community College before receiving a bachelor’s degree in technology management from the University of Maryland University College in 1996.
After high school, Tillis worked at Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co. in Chattanooga, Tennessee, helping computerize the files in collaboration with Wang Laboratories, a Boston-based computer company. Wang eventually hired Tillis to work in his Boston office. He spent two and a half years there before being transferred to Chattanooga and then to Atlanta. In 1990, he was recruited to work for the accounting and consulting firm Price Waterhouse. In 1996, Tillis was promoted to partner. In 1998, he and his family moved to Cornelius, North Carolina.
PricewaterhouseCoopers sold its consulting division to IBM in 2002 and Tillis also moved to IBM. Tillis began his political career in 2002 in Cornelius, when he lobbied for a local bike path and was elected to the city park board. He ran for the city commissioner in 2003 and tied for second place.
Tillis is running for re-election in 2020. It was challenged in the Republican primaries by conservative businessman Garland Tucker, who spent $1.3 million to fund his campaign before giving up in December 2019, after Trump approved all serving Republican senators for the 2020 election, including Tillis. Tillis won the March 3 Republican primary and will face Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham in the November general election.
In July 2020, Tillis claimed that Cunningham had been “silent” on the issue of cutting police funding, saying “I suppose his silence is consent.” PolitiFact called the claim “false” because Cunningham had spoken publicly about the issue and wrote an editorial a month earlier declaring his opposition to the de-foundation of the police, arguing instead for police reform.