by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A new poll shows North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis with just enough support to avoid a runoff in Tuesday’s primary election.
Tillis is one of eight Republicans hoping to face Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in November.
The poll by Public Policy Polling shows Tillis with 40 percent, Greg Brannon with 28 percent, Charlotte pastor Mark Harris with 15 percent and 11 percent undecided.
The three leaders spent time in Charlotte on Monday.
Brannon held a noontime rally outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He brought in tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.
Paul told the crowd, "America is craving a dragon-slayer and that dragon-slayer is Dr. Greg Brannon."
Tillis planned to knock on doors in a Huntersville neighborhood Monday evening. He declined an interview but campaign spokesman Jordan Shaw said the Tillis camp believes it can get 40 percent of the vote, the minimum needed to avoid a runoff between the top two finishers.
"We understand the difficulties that are involved in that but we're optimistic," Shaw said. "But we're prepared for any outcome. We're ready for a runoff. We're ready to face Kay Hagan."
Mark Harris, the pastor of Charlotte's First Baptist Church, has been crisscrossing the state.
In Kernersville on Monday afternoon, Harris shook hands and told supporters he is feeling good about his chances.
"There's just a great, great sense of enthusiasm and excitement we're feeling,” he said.
But it'll take more than enthusiasm to win Tuesday's primary. All three campaigns said they're working the phones and trying to make sure to get their supporters to the polls.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig said that's could make all the difference.
"What the recent polls don't tell you, the polls have Tillis over 40 percent, is who's actually going to show up to vote? That's really the key in primaries,” he said.