Bobbie Richardson: GOP senate candidates won’t stand up for democracy when it counts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2021

By Bobbie Richardson

Six months ago today, Americans watched in horror as insurrectionists pushed past police barriers and stormed the U.S. Capitol, vandalizing the building and endangering the vice president and members of Congress.

Five Americans died, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. The mob, incited by former President Donald Trump, sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election by stopping the count of Electoral College votes that would formalize President Joe Biden’s win. 

Despite the reality that Donald Trump cost Republicans the House, the Senate, and the presidency in four years, Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate are following him off the cliff.

Congressman Ted Budd perpetuated unfounded false claims about the election, stoking disinformation that saw people descend on Washington with the wrong intent, and ultimately voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Even after witnessing the violence on Jan. 6, when presented with the choice to defend democracy or pledge allegiance to Trump, Budd continued to stand by Trump’s baseless attempts to subvert the will of the American people.

When asked recently by the Charlotte Observer editorial board if he thought the 2020 election was fair and legitimate, Budd refused to answer. Just last week, Budd voted against legislation that earned bipartisan support to create a select committee to launch a new inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, once again abandoning truth and his obligation to uphold the Constitution in favor of his own political ambitions. Congressman Budd’s unwavering devotion to Trump and his shameful embrace of election fraud conspiracies at the expense of our democracy is disqualifying.

Of course, Budd wasn’t acting alone. Former Congressman Mark Walker signed onto a fringe Texas lawsuit challenging Joe Biden’s victory in multiple states. Even former Governor Pat McCrory walked back his past criticism of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election after launching his Senate campaign and “welcomed” an endorsement from the former president. 

For Congressman Budd, his blind allegiance won him the coveted endorsement from the disgraced former president in this messy Republican primary. The others were not so lucky. 

Now, Trump’s loyalty test is fueling a chaotic primary season for North Carolina Republicans, as the McCrory campaign is now reportedly circulating polling arguing Trump’s support would hurt a candidate in the general election and both Walker and McCrory are speaking out about why they think Trump’s endorsement of a “Washington insider” was a mistake. 

For North Carolina voters, the brutal GOP primary is revealing that none of these candidates will stand up for our democracy when it counts. They are all happy to side with unhinged conspiracy theorists spewing corrosive lies about the election if it benefits their own short-term political interests.  

Six months after the violent insurrection at the Capitol, it’s clearer than ever that North Carolina deserves a senator who has the courage to put our democracy first. We can’t afford another politician who blindly follows national Republicans to serve their own personal self-interest instead of standing up for what’s right. 

Bobbie Richardson is chair of the N.C. Democratic Party.