Tillis was censured in a closed-door vote at the state's annual Republican convention, where GOP presidential frontrunners such as Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis spoke. Prominent Republicans said that the decision was handed down because Tillis had strayed from conservative values.
Tillis most notably worked with Democrats on the Respect For Marriage Act, which solidified same-sex and interracial marriage protections into law. Though he opposed same-sex marriage in his early career, Tillis eventually lobbied his Republican constituents to support the federal law.
At the time, Tillis referred to the law as “a good compromise that provides permanent certainty for same-sex couples while ensuring robust protections for churches and religious organizations.”
Tillis also opposed former president Trump's proposal to use military construction funds to build a wall along the southern U.S. border. He has also supported red flag gun laws, which would allow state courts to temporarily remove firearms from people who may pose a threat to themselves or others.
"We need people who are unwavering in their support for conservative ideals," Jim Forster, an 81-year-old delegate from Guilford, told The Associated Press. "His recent actions don't reflect the party's shift to the right — in fact, they're moving in the exact wrong direction."
Daniel Keylin, spokesperson for Tillis, said that the senator “keeps his promises and delivers results."
“He will never apologize for his work passing the largest tax cut in history, introducing legislation to secure the border and end sanctuary cities, delivering desperately-needed funding to strengthen school safety, and protecting the rights of churches to worship freely based on their belief in traditional marriage," he said.
Many legislators in the state believe that the vote created an alarming precedent, and that it does not allow enough flexibility within the party. This could be especially impactful as the 2024 presidential election approaches.
"I don't think we need to be attacking our own," said Jim Burgin of Harnett County. "You don't shoot your own elephants."