Berger's announcement contradicts recent moves he'd been making suggesting plans to run. Berger's campaign website emphasized his criticism at Hagan as well as support for North Carolina's new controversial voter ID laws, suggesting he planned to announce a run against her soon. Berger also backed a $100,000 advertising campaign attacking Hagan's opposition to the state's new voter ID laws. Adding to what seemed to be an inevitable Senate run, Hagan's re-election campaign even hit back at the ads.
Nevertheless, observers and politicos in North Carolina were skeptical that Berger was doing anything more than just toying with the idea of a Senate run. If Berger had jumped into the race, he would have first had to fight North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), the socially conservative Reverend Mark Harris, and Tea Party-backed Dr. Greg Brannon in the primary.
"I personally don't think he's going to run," a North Carolina Democratic political operative told TPM earlier this month. "He is very powerful in Raleigh. He and Tillis don't get along. My guess is he's just trolling Tillis to mess with him."
If Berger had jumped into the race, he likely would have tangled with Tillis over who more sufficiently supports the voter ID laws. Both North Carolina Republicans had strongly highlighted their support for the new measures, partially to rally conservatives in the state and partially to draw a contrast with Hagan, who has criticized the new voting requirements.
Tillis has been seen as the likeliest Republican to clinch the nomination and run against Hagan in the general, but national Republicans reportedly find him lacking. Even while Berger had said he was open to running for Senate he had also been encouraging state Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R) to enter the race.