Vulnerable Kay Hagan Plans to Skip Obama Speech in North Carolina, Her Home State
Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), who faces a tough re-election battle in 2014, will not attend a speech President Obama is scheduled to deliver at North Carolina State University in Raleigh this Wednesday, according to her spokesperson.
The move is seen as a sign that Senator Hagan is trying to distance herself from President Obama, whose policies are increasingly unpopular in the Tar Heel state. Those negative perceptions of the president are influencing voter perceptions of Hagan. The topic of the president's speech, which the White House describes as "an event on the economy," is unlikely to change the minds of North Carolina voters who oppose his policies.
According to Hagan's spokesperson, she will be unable to attend the speech because the Senate will be in session on Wednesday.
Hagan has seen political support for her re-election plummet since a September poll that showed her in the lead. This drop has coincided with the unveiling of Obamacare on October 1 and its subsequent unraveling. Like every Democratic member of the United States Senate, Hagan voted for the president's signature legislation in 2010.
In November, Public Policy Polling released a poll that showed her trailing one potential challenger, Dr. Greg Brannon, by one point, 44 percent to 43 percent. Brannon has been endorsed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
The same poll showed that Hagan's lead over three other potential challengers was negligible. She was ahead of North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis and Reverend Mark Harris by only two points. Her lead over Heather Grant, a nurse, was only three points.
In December, a new poll released by Public Policy Polling showed that Hagan's downward trend continued, though the pace of the slide lessened somewhat. Brannon's lead had increased to two points, and both Heather Grant and Mark Harris were tied with her. In addition, a newcomer, Bill Flynn, was two points ahead of her in the polls. Tillis remained two points behind her.
In November Politico reported that Senator Hagan is "near the top of national Republicans’ target list for 2014," and she remains a top target as 2014 begins.
The North Carolina Republican primary to determine Senator Hagan's general election opponent will be held in May.