Democrats and Republicans prepare for U.S. Senate race

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Months away from the U.S. Senate race, both parties say they have a winner. (WTVD)

The Republican and Democratic state parties hosted conventions Saturday. Republicans were almost 300 miles away in Cherokee with the same message as Democrats in Raleigh: that winning the Senate seat is key in going forward in North Carolina.

A big rallying point was the crucial U.S. Senate race between Sen. Kay Hagan and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis.

Both parties believe they're supporting the next senator of North Carolina. Republican challenger Thom Tillis is going up against Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.

"We have an incredible opportunity to pick up a seat in North Carolina and in doing so we may very well win the Senate back for the Republicans," said Claude Pope, chairman of the NC Republican Party.

Republicans are using fuel like the troubled start of the Affordable Care Act in their battle for the seat.

Sen. Hagan said Tillis' record as Speaker of the House speaks for itself.

"This has been one of the most destructive general assembly sessions that I have seen in recent memory," Sen. Hagan said. "Doing tax cuts for the wealthy? Telling our teachers five years, freezing your pay, another half billion dollars in cuts to education -- that's not putting North Carolinians first."

Republicans argue they've lowered the unemployment rate and are sending North Carolinians back to work.

Hagan disagrees. Her supporters believe the decisions handed down by the General Assembly -- like cuts to education, to Medicaid and unemployment benefits -- will be the driving force in keeping Hagan in that Senate seat.

Still, Republicans are confident they're building North Carolina up once again, and that they'll win in November.

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