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Thomas Mills: Trump primary takes shape in North Carolina

Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from recent columns by Thomas Mills, founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com, on his website. 

By Thomas Mills

It’s very hard for me to take Pat McCrory, the state’s former governor who is running for U.S. Senate, seriously.

He’s not a very bright guy and he proved as governor that he has little backbone or conviction. He arrived in Raleigh as an establishment Republican, burnishing his business-friendly, socially moderate credentials. He quickly got rolled by the legislature and left office the father of H.B. 2 and a culture warrior. He’s Thom Tillis without the smarts — an ideological weather vane.

The primary will be a Trump primary. Candidates will jostle to claim to be most like the con man and carnival barker who recently inhabited the White House. Republicans, who once were serious people, will all line up behind one candidate or the other and try to defend their support of candidates who mimic a man they once considered a joke.

Mark Walker has already started. When he heard about McCrory’s potential candidacy, Walker tweeted, “If Pat wasn’t good enough for Trump’s administration, he’s not good enough for NC.” He’s reminding Republicans that McCrory sought a position in the Trump administration but was passed over. Ironically, if McCrory had taken a position, he likely would have gotten fired and dissed like so many other Trump appointees. The only reason McCrory is viable is because he can still claim Trump loyalty. Otherwise, he would probably end up like Jeff Sessions in Alabama. Loyalty to Trump only goes one way.

If Rep. Ted Budd or any other Members of Congress really get into the primary, it could have repercussions for redistricting. Republicans in the General Assembly who are drawing new districts will have more leeway in drawing districts that house Representatives not seeking re-election. For instance, some of Budd’s most conservative voters could go into the 8th Congressional District to better insulate Congressman Richard Hudson from areas that are growing more Democratic. If Budd stays in Congress, he will probably want to keep as many of his old constituents as possible to protect his name recognition.

The Republican primary for U.S. Senate could shake up North Carolina politics. It will almost certainly solidify the perception that the GOP is now the party of Trump instead of the party of Reagan.

•••

In the next week or so, Congress will take up Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill.

It’s a big bill addressing big needs, many of which have been ignored for decades. Democrats will likely need to pass the bill with no Republican support. Since Mitch McConnell became Majority Leader of the Senate, the GOP has become the party of no, uniformly opposing any legislation proposed by Democrats, regardless of merit.

After Barack Obama became president in 2009, McConnell and his caucus opposed virtually every piece of legislation and many appointments in an attempt to make Obama a failed president. Their obstructionism led to sweeping Congressional wins in both the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, even if they failed to prevent Obama’s second term. Since then, Republicans in the House have embraced McConnell’s legislative strategy as a campaign strategy, making the GOP an obstructionist party instead of an opposition one.

Republicans often claim that they agree with the problem but disagree with Democratic solutions. However, when they controlled both Congress and the White House after 2016, they passed nothing significant but tax cuts for the wealthy. “Infrastructure week” became a running joke during the Trump years when Republicans kept promising solutions to our crumbling transportation system but failed to produce any legislation. After years of sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and harming middle-class Americans, they promised to “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare but never even introduced a bill, exposing the cynicism of their rallying cry.

 

Thomas Mills spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant before starting PoliticsNC.

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