Tillis Wins North Carolina Primary, Beats Tea Party Candidate, Baptist Pastor

Defying the hopes of the Tea Party Movement and staunch social conservatives, North Carolina Republican candidate Thom Tillis won the GOP primary.

In a three way race against Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon and social conservative Mark Harris, Tillis gained over 40 percent of the vote among eight candidates on the ballot.

With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Tillis garnered approximately 45 percent of the vote, with Brannon getting 27 percent and Harris a little under 18 percent.

In a statement emailed out to supporters Tuesday evening, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund leader Jenny Beth Martin looked past the results to the general election.

"While we obviously aren't happy with the outcome, we congratulate Speaker Tillis for his win," said Martin.

"The important thing now is to pick up a U.S. Senate seat that's been in liberal hands for the last six years, and we hope all North Carolinians will make that a reality in November."

The three-way Republican primary in North Carolina garnered nationwide attention as many believed it to be a litmus test on the soul of the party.

Touting endorsements by Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, Tillis was considered the establishment candidate. Brannon, with the backing of figures like Sen. Rand Paul, was the Tea Party favorite.

Harris, a Southern Baptist pastor who campaigned for North Carolina's 2012 marriage amendment, was the social conservative candidate and garnered the endorsement of Mike Huckabee.

As Speaker of the House for the state legislature and with the blessing of the establishment and a hefty war chest, Tillis was the favorite to win the race.

Harris and Brannon were seen as individuals who could upset the establishment candidate, possibly by causing a runoff election.

"Brannon and Harris just have to prevent Tillis from getting 40 percent or more of the vote," reported Abby Ohlheiser of thewire.com.

"If [Tillis] doesn't meet that threshold - even if he takes a plurality of voters - there will be a primary run-off this summer."

Tillis will face Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in the general election. North Carolina is one of the states Republicans are eyeing in their efforts to win a majority of the Senate in November.  

While viewed as a three way race, there were five also-rans who competed in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination.

Other names on the ballot for the Senate race were Heather Grant, Jim Snyder, Ted Alexander, Alex Lee Bradshaw, and Edward Kryn. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, none of these hopefuls received more than 5 percent of the vote.

The North Carolina Senate primary was one of several primary races taking place across the country for state and federal level races.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defeated his primary challengers handily, taking nearly three quarters of the vote against his two challengers.

In the GOP Primary the Ninth Congressional District of Indiana, Todd Young easily vanquished his two opponents by gaining 79 percent of the vote.