DAVIDSON -

A rival to North Carolina's Republican Senate primary front runner is picking at Thom Tillis' legislative record in another head-to-head encounter.

The state House speaker and three other leading candidates held their first debate Tuesday at Davidson College north of Charlotte.

The election is two weeks away.

Greg Brannon says North Carolina took on new national education standards criticized by conservatives under Tillis' watch in the legislature.

He also suggests that Tillis wanted to operate a state online health insurance exchange.

Tillis says he's done everything he can to halt the national health care law.

The primary winner will take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

The closely watched Senate race is considered a bellwether - Republicans must win six more seats for a majority.

Another debate is planned for Wednesday night. Brannon, Heather Grant, and Mark Harris will face off.

Tillis will not attend due to a prior commitment.

That debate will be aired on NewsChannel 12 on Saturday at 7 p.m.