Thom Tillis

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Thom Tillis
Thom Tillis official portrait.jpg
Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives
Assumed office
January 26, 2011
Preceded by Joe Hackney
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
from the 98th district
Assumed office
January 2007
Preceded by John Rhodes
Personal details
Born Thomas Roland Tillis
(1960-08-30) August 30, 1960 (age 54)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Tillis
Children 2
Residence Cornelius, North Carolina
Alma mater University of Maryland,
University College

Thomas Roland "Thom" Tillis[1] (born August 30, 1960, in Jacksonville, Florida) is a Republican member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from Mecklenburg County and Speaker of the House, and is the Republican Party nominee for the 2014 U.S. Senate election in North Carolina.

Early life[edit]

Tillis, the son of a boat draftsman, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but also lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Nashville, Tennessee, growing up. His family moved especially frequently when he was in elementary school, as he never went to the same school in back-to-back years. In high school, Tillis was elected student body president and graduated near the top of his class.[2]

Business career[edit]

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."[2] He got his first job at Provident Insurance helping computerize records. He also attended Chattanooga State Community College.[3] The company partnered with Wang Laboratories, and Tillis went to work for Wang two years later, managing a research and development team. This job moved him to Boston and Atlanta, where he subsequently joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (just Pricewaterhouse at the time). Working in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., he became a partner at the company two years sooner than the usual eight. A year later, he received his bachelor's degree in technology management from the University of Maryland University College.[4] Tillis worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, through its acquisition by IBM, until 2009.[2][5] He retained the title of "partner" when joining IBM, as did many PricewaterhouseCoopers partners, although such a position had not previously existed at IBM.[6]

Political career[edit]

Tillis had moved to Cornelius, North Carolina, a northern suburb of Charlotte, in 1998. He began his political career on the park board for the town as he pushed for a local bike trail. He ran for town commissioner in 2003 and tied for second place in the voting. Following his two-year term as commissioner, Tillis was free to run for the General Assembly in 2006. He defeated incumbent John W. Rhodes in the Republican primary and went on to win the election.[2][7] No Democrat even filed, and he was elected unopposed. He was unopposed for reelection in 2008, 2010 and 2012. In 2010, Tillis was campaign chairman for the House Republican Caucus. In the 2010 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. He was elected Speaker when the legislative session opened Jan. 26, 2011.[8] He is the fifth Republican Speaker of the House in North Carolina history.

In the 2012 elections, the Republican Party added nine seats to its majority, winning 77 of the 120 House seats.[9] Tillis was unanimously re-elected Speaker of the House in January 2013.

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.[10] It has also passed legislation to sunset existing state rules and regulations and limit new regulations to a ten year duration, unless renewed by the state government.[11]

The legislature also approved a new voter identification law and referred North Carolina Amendment 1 to the statewide ballot, where it was passed by voters in 2012.[12]

In May 2011, Governing Magazine named Tillis one of 17 "GOP Legislators to Watch." Each of the legislators was selected on the basis of qualities like leadership, ambition, and political potential.[13]

2014 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In keeping with a term limits pledge taken in 2006, Tillis announced that he would not run for re-election to the state house,[14] instead choosing to run for U.S. Senate in the 2014 election against Democrat Kay Hagan.

In his Republican primary bid, Tillis was endorsed by Jeb Bush,[15] Gov. Pat McCrory,[16] Mitt Romney[17] and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[18]

During the primary election campaign, Tillis skipped four candidate forums in an effort to avoid lesser known rivals in the crowded primary and cement his image as the "inevitable nominee" but participated in several televised debates with the four major candidates.[19][20] According to the National Journal, Tillis was criticized[by whom?] 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]

On May 6, 2014, Tillis won the Republican nomination by a comfortable margin.[23]


Tillis and his wife, Susan, have two children, Lindsay and Ryan. They live in Huntersville.

Tillis's longtime friendship with libertarian bioethicist JM Appel is chronicled in several of Appel's essays.[24] In 2013, Appel acknowledged that Tillis is the basis for the title character, Arnold Brinkman, in his first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up.[25]


  1. ^ "Multiple Thomas R. Tilles". News & Observer. 
  2. ^ a b c d Morrill, Jim (February 2, 2011). "The rise of Thom Tillis". The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC). Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Martin, Edward. Business North Carolina [1]
  4. ^ Edward Martin, April 2012 Business North Carolina, [2]
  5. ^ "Meet Thom". Thom Tillis for US Senate. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ WRAL Fact Check
  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. ^ "2012 General Election Results, Summary". NC State Board of Elections. 
  10. ^ "McCrory, legislative leaders announce tax deal". Charlotte 15 July 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Matthew Burns (12 February 2013). "'Thoughtful, methodical' regulatory reform planned". Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Shiner, Meredith (21 February 2014). "N.C. Conservatives in a Race to a Runoff". Roll Call. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  13. ^ Jacobson, Lewis (5/24/11). "GOP Legislators to Watch". Governing. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Renee Bindewald (22 March 2014). "Henderson County Republican Convention". Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Joseph, Cameron (2014-04-30). "Report: Jeb Bush to endorse Tillis in North Carolina". The Hill. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Frank, John (2014-04-29). "Gov. McCrory endorses Thom Tillis for US Senate". NewsObserver. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Sean Sullivan (5 May 2014). "Romney endorses Tillis on eve of North Carolina primary". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  18. ^ Philip Elliott (11 April 2014). "US Chamber of Commerce Backs Tillis in NC Race". ABC News. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Cameron Joseph (12 May 2014). "NC conservatives wonder: Where’s Tillis?". Roll Call. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  20. ^ Frank, John (2014-04-14). "Thom Tillis to skip major GOP primary debate". NewsObserver. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Sarah Mimms (12 May 2014). "NRSC Visits N.C. in Search for Hagan Challenger". National Journal. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  22. ^ Frank, John (4/3/14). "Thom Tillis campaign money overlaps with legislative, super PAC interests". NewsObserver. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "Thom Tillis captures GOP Senate nomination in North Carolina". CBS News. 6 May 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  24. ^ Appel, JM. Phoning Home, University of South Carolina Press 2014
  25. ^ Appel JM. The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, Cargo, 3rd Edition, 2013

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Dole
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from North Carolina
(Class 2)

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