Mark Meadows is trying to rig the electoral process to install his own, hand-picked successor as the new representative for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.
It’s manipulative and it’s sleazy. And voters need to understand exactly what he is up to here.
In December, not long after the gerrymandered congressional district lines were thrown out by North Carolina state courts for being illegal — the same lines that guaranteed Meadows his seat in Congress for eight years — Meadows announced he was retiring as representative and not running for a fifth term. It’s not surprising, when you consider he has been a no-show in Western North Carolina for years and would have had to actually campaign and compete to hold onto his job under the new, more competitive lines.
Meadows timed the release of his decision that he wasn’t running so that experienced North Carolina politicians currently running to remain in their offices couldn’t jump into the race after his last-minute announcement. He also made the announcement the day before the candidate filings deadline, setting off a frenzy with 11 GOP contenders entering the race. But it was clear that Lynda Bennett, a close friend of Meadows’s wife, would be his hand-picked successor. Her campaign website was up and running shortly after Meadows’s shocking retirement announcement, an indication she was aware Meadows didn’t intend to run.
After promising he wouldn’t endorse a candidate, Meadows angered North Carolina Republicans by breaking his promise and endorsing Bennett late in the primary process.
Meadows’s House Freedom Caucus also poured $380,000 of PAC money into the Republican primary to try to buy the nomination for Bennett. It didn’t work. Bennett managed to squeak out about 22 percent of the vote — a clear sign voters aren’t as enamored with her as Meadows is. But Bennett’s 22 percent was enough to create a runoff with second-place finisher Madison Cawthorn. Their runoff election is scheduled for May 12.
Then President Trump announced last Friday in a late-night news dump that Meadows, who had indicated he would stay for his full congressional term, would be named White House Chief of Staff. Once again, the timing of the announcement raised eyebrows, coming just days three days after the March 3 primary in North Carolina.
A resignation by Meadows potentially triggers a special election in North Carolina to fill the abandoned seat. And now it appears Republicans want a special election to be held using the same old gerrymandered lines the court said were illegal. Why? It’s the only way a Republican — most likely Bennett — can stack the deck to try and rig the outcome. Thus, Meadows’s hand-picked successor would be installed in Congress in advance of the November general election and have the advantage of incumbent status.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s how you cheat on democracy.
I would say shame on them, but shame requires a conscience.
By Moe Davis, Democratic Nominee for Congress, North Carolina’s 11th District
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