Thom Tillis

Thom Tillis
United States Senator
from North Carolina
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Richard Burr
Preceded by Kay Hagan
Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives
In office
January 26, 2011  January 3, 2015
Preceded by Joe Hackney
Succeeded by Tim Moore
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
from the 98th district
In office
January 2007  January 3, 2015
Preceded by John Rhodes
Succeeded by John R. Bradford III
Personal details
Born Thomas Roland Tillis
(1960-08-30) August 30, 1960
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Tillis
Children Lindsay
Alma mater Chattanooga State Community College
University of Maryland,
University College
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Website Senate website
Campaign website

Thomas Roland "Thom" Tillis[2] (born August 30, 1960) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from North Carolina. A Republican, he served as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from Mecklenburg County, and Speaker of the House, and was also the Republican Party's nominee for the 2014 U.S. Senate election in North Carolina, defeating Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.

Early life and education

Tillis was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Margie and Thomas Raymond Tillis, a boat draftsman.[3] He was the oldest boy among six children with three older sisters.[4] His family moved especially frequently when he was in elementary school, never attending the same school in back-to-back years. He lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Nashville, Tennessee growing up, moving about 20 times.[4] In high school, Tillis was elected student body president and graduated near the top of his class.[5]

In 1978, after graduating high school at 17, Tillis left home to get a job, telling The Charlotte Observer that he and his siblings "weren't wired to go to college."[5] He would eventually go back to school, attending Chattanooga State Community College and receiving his bachelor's degree in technology management from the University of Maryland University College in 1997.[4]

Business career and local politics (1980-2003)

Tillis's first major job after high school was at Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, helping computerize records in conjunction with Wang Laboratories, a computer company in Boston. Wang eventually hired Tillis to work in their Boston office. He spent two and a half years there, before being transferred back to Chattanooga, and then Atlanta.[4]

In 1990 Tillis was recruited to work for accounting and consulting firm PriceWaterhouse. He enrolled in an extension program, graduating from the University of Maryland University College in 1997[6] with a B.S. in technology management to meet job requirements. His client was Charlotte's NationsBank Corp, which in 1998 became Bank of America Corp.[4]

In 1998, Tillis moved his wife and two children from Fairfax, Virginia to Cornelius, North Carolina, a northern suburb of Charlotte, saying he was "sick of commuting".[4]

PricewaterhouseCoopers sold its consulting arm to IBM in 2002; Tillis retained the title of "partner" when joining IBM, as did many PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting partners, although such a position had not previously existed at IBM.[7]

Tillis began his political career in 2002 in the town he lived in, Cornelius, as he pushed for a local bike trail and was elected to the town's park board. He ran for town commissioner in 2003 and tied for second place in the voting.[4]

North Carolina House of Representatives

After a two-year term as town commissioner, Tillis ran for the General Assembly in 2006. He defeated incumbent John W. Rhodes in the Republican primary, and went on to win the election,[5][8] since no other candidate had filed in the general election. Tillis was also unopposed in three subsequent reelection bids, in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Tillis formally left IBM in 2009;[4] He was campaign chairman for the House Republican Caucus in 2010. In that year's elections, Republicans won a majority in the House for the first time in almost 20 years. The House Republican Caucus selected Tillis to be the next Speaker over Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake. When the legislative session opened on January 26, 2011, he was elected[9] the fifth Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House in the state's history.

In May 2011, Governing magazine named Tillis one of 17 "GOP Legislators to Watch" selected on the basis of such perceived qualities as leadership, ambition, and political potential.[10]

In the 2012 elections, the Republican Party added nine seats to its majority, winning 77 of the 120 House seats.[11]

In January 2013, Tillis was unanimously re-elected Speaker of the House by the Republican Caucus . The state house overseen by Tillis enacted a complete restructuring of the state's tax code, including a reduction of personal and business income taxes, elimination of the estate tax, and a cap on the gas tax.[12] It passed legislation to sunset existing state rules and regulations and limit new regulations to a ten-year duration, unless renewed by the state government.[13]

U.S. Senate

Committee assignments

2014 election

In keeping with an earlier promise that he would serve only four terms (eight years) in the state house, Tillis announced that he would not run for re-election to the legislature again.[14] Instead, he chose to run for U.S. Senate in the 2014 election against first-term incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

In Tillis's Republican primary bid, his candidacy had received endorsements from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,[15] current North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory,[16] and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.[17] Tillis's primary candidacy had also been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[18]

During his primary election campaign, Tillis skipped four candidate forums in an effort to avoid lesser known rivals in the crowded primary, and in attempt to cement his image as the "inevitable nominee". However he participated in several televised debates with the four major Republican primary candidates.[19][20]

According to the National Journal, Tillis was criticized during the Republican primary campaign for raising money for his Senate campaign from groups lobbying the state house, which is allowed because he is running for federal office.[21][22]

In the Republican primary election on May 6, 2014, Tillis captured the Republican nomination for his U.S. Senate candidacy by a comfortable margin – 45.68% to his nearest challenger's 27.15%.[23][24]

Tillis was announced the winner of the close 2014 Senate race at approximately 11:30 PM on November 4, 2014. Tillis carried 48.82 percent of the vote, the lowest winning total in North Carolina history for a U.S. Senate candidate.[25][26]

Electoral history

NC House of Representatives Primary Election
Year Republican Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2006 John W. Rhodes 1,061 37% Thom Tillis 1,805 63%
NC House of Representatives General Election[27]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2006 No Candidate Thom Tillis 14,479 100%
2008 No Candidate Thom Tillis 38,875 100%
2010 No Candidate Thom Tillis 23,540 100%
2012 No Candidate Thom Tillis 27,971 100%
2014 North Carolina U.S. Senate Republican primary election
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Thom Tillis 223,174 45.68%
Republican Greg Brannon 132,630 27.15%
Republican Mark Harris 85,727 17.55%
Republican Heather Grant 22,971 4.70%
Republican Jim Snyder 9,414 1.93%
Republican Ted Alexander 9,258 1.89%
Republican Alex Lee Bradshaw 3,528 0.72%
Republican Edward Kryn 1,853 0.38%
2014 North Carolina U.S. Senate election[28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Thom Tillis 1,423,259 48.82% Increase 4.64
Democratic Kay Hagan 1,377,651 47.26% Decrease 5.39
Libertarian Sean Haugh 109,100 3.74% Increase 0.62
Other Write-ins 5,271 0.18% Increase 0.14
Majority 45,608 1.56%
Turnout 2,915,281
Republican gain from Democratic Swing Increase 5.0

Personal life

Tillis and his wife Susan currently live in Cornelius, North Carolina, and have two children, Lindsay and Ryan. Before his marriage to Susan, Tillis had been twice married to and divorced from a girlfriend from high school.[29]


  1. "MULTIPLE Thomas R. Tillises". News & Observer.
  2. =Greg Lacour (17 October 2013). "Thom Tillis Is the Strategist". Charlotte Magazine. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Edward Martin (April 2012). "House speaker Thom Tillis is North Carolina's most focused free-market legislative leader in a long time — maybe ever.". Business North Carolina. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 Morrill, Jim (February 2, 2011). "The rise of Thom Tillis". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, NC. Archived from the original on May 11, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  5. John Frank House Speaker Thom Tillis forced to correct college credentials, March 20, 2014, The Charlotte Observer, retrieved 28 October 2015
  6. Mark Binker Tillis Fact check WRAL Fact Check, September 2, 2014, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc., retrieved 23 October 2015
  7. "NC Primary Election Results 2006". NC State Board of Elections. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  8. "GOP-led legislature begins with budget, maps ahead". WRAL/Associated Press.
  9. Jacobson, Lewis (24 May 2011). "GOP Legislators to Watch". Governing. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  10. "2012 General Election Results, Summary". NC State Board of Elections.
  11. "McCrory, legislative leaders announce tax deal". Charlotte 15 July 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  12. Matthew Burns (12 February 2013). "'Thoughtful, methodical' regulatory reform planned". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  13. Renee Bindewald (22 March 2014). "Henderson County Republican Convention". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  14. Joseph, Cameron (2014-04-30). "Report: Jeb Bush to endorse Tillis in North Carolina". The Hill. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  15. Frank, John (2014-04-29). "Gov. McCrory endorses Thom Tillis for US Senate". NewsObserver. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  16. Sean Sullivan (5 May 2014). "Romney endorses Tillis on eve of North Carolina primary". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  17. Philip Elliott (11 April 2014). "US Chamber of Commerce Backs Tillis in NC Race". ABC News. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  18. Cameron Joseph (12 May 2014). "NC conservatives wonder: Where's Tillis?". Roll Call. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  19. Frank, John (2014-04-14). "Thom Tillis to skip major GOP primary debate". NewsObserver. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  20. Sarah Mimms (12 May 2014). "NRSC Visits N.C. in Search for Hagan Challenger". National Journal. Archived from the original on June 5, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  21. Frank, John (May 4, 2014). "Thom Tillis campaign money overlaps with legislative, super PAC interests". NewsObserver. Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  22. "Thom Tillis captures GOP Senate nomination in North Carolina". CBS News. 6 May 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
  23. "NC SBE Election Results". May 22, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  24. "Tillis' 48.87 percent is lowest winning total in North Carolina history". News and Record. 12 December 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  25. "11/04/2014 Official General Election Results – Statewide". NC Board of Elections. November 4, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  26. "Election Results". Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  27. "NC SBE Election Contest Details". Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  28. "10 things to know about Thom Tillis". Politico. 7 May 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Dole
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from North Carolina
(Class 2)

Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Kay Hagan
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from North Carolina
Served alongside: Richard Burr
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
David Perdue
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Joni Ernst
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