It might be a little more understandable now why N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore backed away from a race against Madison Cawthorn for Congress.
Last week, conservative group Club for Growth sent an extraordinary mailer to households in North Carolina. In it was a multi-page, full-color “report” on former N.C. Gov. and current U.S. Senate candidate Pat McCrory. It’s not the first time Club for Growth has focused on McCrory — the group also has aired two TV ads. Observers, both Republican and Democrat, say they’ve never seen an all-out assault like this in a same-party campaign in our state.
The mailer, titled “Special Report: Pat McCrory’s Ethics” is a collage of critical headlines and quotes on McCrory, fronted by a letter that explains how the former governor is a “fatally flawed general election candidate who is the one potential Republican nominee likely to hand Sen. Richard Burr’s seat to the Democrats and keep Chuck Schumer in charge of the U.S. Senate.”
Front and center in the montage is a 2016 Charlotte Observer editorial that explains why the newspaper wasn’t recommending McCrory for governor after endorsing him in 24 years worth of races. (“He has climbed the ladder beyond his abilities,” we said then.) The mailer also helpfully provides a link to a site that details several “Ethical Lapses and Corruption Allegations” during McCrory’s four years leading the state. Notably absent are any references to HB2 — the anti-LGBTQ legislation that may have hurt McCrory most in his 2016 loss — but the mailer is nevertheless brutal in its thoroughness.
It’s the kind of ferocity that’s usually saved for a general election, and it’s a signal to Republicans that if you run against Trump-backed candidates like Cawthorn and McCrory opponent Ted Budd, the worst attacks against you might come from inside the house. It’s also notable that this isn’t coming from the Budd campaign, but an outside group — the kind of national intrusion into state politics that Republicans invited with their unrestricted approach to campaign funding.
Most of all, it’s a reminder that Republicans brought this upon themselves when they courted the worst elements of their base, when they dismissed coarseness as principled passion, when they embraced a president with no boundaries. Now that president and the Republicans he leads have turned on their own with delight. It won’t end with McCrory, and it will discourage decent Republicans from running in the future, further cementing the GOP as a radical and ruined party.