Some of North Carolina’s most prominent Republicans seem eager to stay aboard the sinking Trump ship, egging on the president’s refusal to concede the election to Joe Biden.
Look no further than the N.C. GOP itself, which has unabashedly backed Trump’s unproven conspiracies on social media. The state party has repeatedly tweeted about “fraud that allegedly took place across the country” in the last few days, and on Wednesday circulated a petition to “Keep Sleepy Joe and Radical Kamala out of the White House.” (Biden did not seem very sleepy when he jogged up to the podium to make his victory speech last weekend, suggesting this too may be a right-wing conspiracy. And radicals wish the next VP was one of them.)
We can’t allow the Left-wing MOB to undermine our Election. President @realDonaldTrump needs his fiercest and most loyal defenders, like YOU, to step up and FIGHT BACK!https://t.co/G7CKaxdbt7
— NCGOP (@NCGOP) November 10, 2020
Other recent N.C. GOP tweets insist that “the fight is not over” and argue that “the mainstream media and the ‘professional’ pollsters got it WRONG.”
Not surprisingly, another occupant of this alternate universe is soon-to-be U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn, the far-right, late-term Millennial who glibly tweeted “Cry more, lib” after winning election to his western N.C. Congressional district last week. He’s now erroneously arguing that the presidential election isn’t over while echoing language about a stolen election (without, of course, citing any evidence).
Rick Padgett, a retired law enforcement officer who ran unsuccessfully for N.C. Senate District 22 (which includes the northern half of Durham County), is taking it a step farther. He retweeted someone saying, “Now we know why Biden never campaigned. He knew he didn’t have to.” He then asked if anyone had “checked out Parler,” the social media site newly popular with the right seeking a safe space since the election. He’s also apparently looking for the Supreme Court to get involved.
They have too this way they will look like victims if the SCOTUS RULES the election has been compromised in the battle ground states. Which that in itself makes it all look compromised. https://t.co/TVb9YN4EQl
— Rick Padgett- Part of the working class in America (@RickPadgettNC) November 7, 2020
There aren’t a whole lot of Republicans elected to local office in the Triangle. But among those who have tried, Padgett isn’t alone in his conspiracies. Gadfly David Blackwelder—who previously ran for Wake County Commission and this year sought to become the next Wake County Sheriff—has made multiple posts flagged by Twitter that allege election fraud. The most harmless of the bunch features a doctored photo of deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Every vote will be counted…. pic.twitter.com/YKCbJCg2Bk
— David Blackwelder (@PoliceWake) November 5, 2020
Blackwelder, by the way, was charged with a DWI last month shortly before early voting began, according to the News & Observer.
Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis haven’t tweeted about the presidential election directly since Biden was declared president-elect. In a victory speech for his own reelection campaign (on November 4 before most outlets had called the race), Tillis touched on the issue.
“I am praying that President Donald Trump gets reelected,” he said. “Tonight, let’s pray for this nation, let’s pray that we can heal, let’s pray that we can have a peaceful transition of power. Let’s make sure that we’re magnanimous in victory, because that’s what we should do.”
Democrat Cal Cunningham has since conceded to Tillis in the Senate race.
Senators Tillis and Burr could not immediately be reached for comment. Tillis’ Twitter feed is more focused on the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia.
North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger Sr., who’s normally active on Twitter, hasn’t posted anything since the election. State House Speaker Tim Moore, however, is on the social media site fighting to have Trump declared the winner of North Carolina.
“We need to make sure that legal, lawful votes were counted, and we need to make sure there’s full transparency in the process,” Moore said last week before Biden was declared victorious, according to the Gaston Gazette. His language about “lawful votes” is closely aligned to what First Lady Melania Trump and other loyalists have been saying in the last few days.
The Chatham County GOP retweeted Melania’s post. Several Cawthorn tweets—including one reposting alt-right icon Ben Shapiro—talk about imaginary illegal votes. Among several that were retweeted by the N.C. Young Republicans is one from Cawthorn on November 6 reading, “I support our president. Count every legal vote.”
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the country, or of illegally-cast ballots. And obviously, nobody is arguing that illegally cast ballots, fictional as they may be, should count.
Mark Robinson, who is poised to become our next lieutenant governor, hasn’t tweeted since Biden’s win but has already been deriding absentee voting and calling for voter I.D. laws since Election Day. (North Carolina Republicans have repeatedly sought to institute voter I.D. in the state.) Considering some of his previous spiraling homophobic and anti-Semitic Facebook rants, this is actually pretty calm for Robinson.
Our Democratic process can not remain viable without NATIONAL and or STATE VOTER ID LAWS and STRICT regulation of absentee voting.
The United States of America can and must do better than this!
— Mark Robinson (@markrobinsonNC) November 5, 2020
Current Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, who lost his bid for governor this election, has been mum on Twitter since November 3. The slate of Republican Council of State candidates—most of whom currently hold narrow leads in the unofficial state results—haven’t tweeted about the presidential race in the last week, either. Nor has Republican N.C. House Majority Whip Jon Hardister, who’s been active on the site. Maybe they see the writing on the wall.
Though some of the state’s top Republicans are vocally backing Trump’s unfounded fraud allegations, other Republicans aren’t so convinced. Brent Woodcox, special counsel to the N.C. General Assembly, forcefully condemned the president’s machinations. Woodcox is among those Republicans (and other adults) who can’t understand what the president’s enablers are doing by entertaining Trump’s fantastical claims of fraud.
The election wasn’t stolen. The election was lost. And it was lost by Trump. The majority of the electorate is sick of him and ready to move on. Backing a loser’s conspiracy theories won’t help Republicans in the short term or long term future.
— Brent Woodcox (@BrentWoodcox) November 10, 2020
Dallas Woodhouse, the former director of the N.C. GOP, was among those willing to call the race on Saturday (the same day as all major networks and newspapers). So far, few prominent North Carolina Republicans have joined him.
I did not vote for @JoeBiden nor do I support most of his polices. However, I believe he is the duly elected President-elect of the United States. I wish noting but the best for him in leading our country. He and Jill will be in my prayers.
— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) November 7, 2020
Pat McCrory, our former governor, seemed to acknowledge Biden’s triumph but used it as a chance to peddle other equally ridiculous arguments about Democrats celebrating unmasked (overwhelmingly untrue both locally and nationally) and seeming to imply something sinister about Pfizer’s vaccine announcement.
Not everyone is taking this so seriously, though. Raleigh Republican Emmanuel Wilder, who badly lost his 2018 bid for the N.C. House District 41 seat, is having some fun. At least somebody’s having a good time right now.
They are bringing in the big guns… pic.twitter.com/sfej7q2zIz
— BBQuemonger (@The_EJWilder) November 5, 2020
Follow Interim News Editor Eric Ginsburg on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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