The Republican primary to select the candidate that will officially challenge Democrat Kay Hagan for her U.S. Senate seat this November is going down today, and all signs are currently pointing to Thom Tillis, the speaker of North Carolina’s House of Representatives. Via the NYT:

The Republican Party will watch nervously on Tuesday when the first of a series of key primaries to select Senate nominees is held in North Carolina, one of the states where the races are likely to determine which party controls Congress. …

Recent polls suggest that Mr. Tillis has a comfortable lead over his three opponents, but it is not clear whether he can win the 40 percent he needs to prevent a runoff in July. …

The possibility of a runoff worries the Republican leadership. For one thing, it would force Mr. Tillis and outside groups like Crossroads to spend more money on the nominating process, siphoning resources from the general campaign. And as long as the nomination is unsettled, many national groups are likely to withhold their endorsements and money. …

“If Tillis is tied up in a runoff till mid-July, it knocks a few points off his chances of beating Hagan in November,” said Charlie Cook, the editor of The Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races.

Team Hagan, however, would just love for that Republican runoff scenario to happen, the better to drag out the primary and potentially take her eventual opponent down a few pegs in the eyes of the public in the process. That’s why her campaign has been involving itself in the primary proceedings by doubling down on a deliberately misleading, out-of-context portrayal of Tillis as a supporter of ObamaCare. Via WaPo:

The fliers landed in the mailboxes of Republican voters here last week with a warning likely to unnerve many conservatives.

Thom Tillis, the Republican front-runner for a U.S. Senate seat, once called President Obama’s health-care law “a great idea,” the mailer said. The assertion echoed recent radio ads that also seem to question Tillis’s adherence to the orthodoxy of a party that has made its opposition to the Affordable Care Act a centerpiece of its midterm-election strategy.

But the warnings didn’t come from any of the seven opponents Tillis will face in Tuesday’s GOP primary, where he has been regularly attacked as not conservative enough. Instead, they were paid for by Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat who will face the eventual GOP nominee in November.

Hagan supports the health-care law but she is taking the unusual step of spending money on advertisements designed to appeal to Republican voters who are skeptical of the measure. The maneuver is apparently intended to undermine enthusiasm in the GOP base for the Republican who is considered her strongest potential challenger in November.

Just for the record, here’s what Tillis actually said during the February radio interview to which Team Hagan is disingenuously referring:

“The majority of the stuff that is in Obamacare is bad, because it’s not fiscally sustainable. It’s a great idea that can’t be paid for. Let’s focus on the net problem versus a policy that’s creating as many problems as it fixes in terms of healthcare, and then it’s also policy that’s creating the most devastating problem of a deficit that we can’t afford.”

I think all reasonable people can easily recognize that Tillis was just making the point that, sure, universal health coverage certainly sounds like a lovely idea in theory, but the execution thereof through a top-down federal program is neither workable, sustainable, nor affordable, and that it actually creates more and bigger problems than it solves. Obviously. That Team Hagan is trying to square that out-of-context quote with, oh, I don’t know — her actual “yes” vote for ObamaCare — is a sure sign of just how desperate they really are.