As a service to Policy Watch readers — very few of whom, we presume, are glued to their screens lapping up every second of the Republican National Convention/Trump family reunion in Charlotte this week — here is a list of all the North Carolina elected officials speaking at the event: ____________.
No, that’s not a misprint. As best as can be determined from the official list distributed by the Trump people, not a single Republican elected official from the host state — neither of its U.S. senators, none of the nine Republicans currently representing the state in the U.S. House, not the White House chief of staff who until recently represented western North Carolina in Congress, neither of the Republican leaders of the state’s General Assembly, nor the former Republican governor/former longtime mayor of the host city — will address the event/coronation. And unless we’re missing something, there isn’t even an immigrant-bashing local sheriff or gun-toting city council member from North Carolina on the list.
Yes, 25-year-old western North Carolina congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn will speak tonight and one of the state’s most embarrassing residents, Franklin Graham, will help wind things up tomorrow. Oh, and Graham’s daughter Cissi did a little anti-LGBTQ fear mongering last night. But that appears to be it.
And doesn’t that strike you as somewhat bizarre?
It’s true that political conventions were long ago transformed into studio-audience-adorned national infomercials that could take place anywhere, and that the pandemic has made this an especially weird political year. But, seriously, not a single North Carolina Republican pol?
It’s not like these folks have much else to do and haven’t been around. Sure, folks like Robin Hayes, David Lewis and Phil Berger have had other things to attend to. But Congress is basically recessed and has been doing things online for a while now anyway.
And still, not even a single NC GOP’er of note at the dais? Couldn’t they have at least spotted Virginia Foxx or Ted Budd 30 seconds to introduce Eveleth, Minnesota mayor Robert Vlaisavljevich?
So, the obvious question is: who’s snubbing who?
The suspicion here is that it’s a little from both sides.
As for Tillis, it seems pretty clear that the junior senator is fighting for his political life and has decided that Trump’s woeful performance in combating the virus and low approval ratings are mostly weighing him down at this point. Hard to imagine that he’d so visibly avoid the big show if that weren’t the case.
Richard Burr has clearly already checked out of the limelight as he winds down his political career and strives to avoid criminal indictment for insider trading, so his absence is pretty easily explained.
As for the others, though, it’s got to be a little embarrassing. Just about all of them have been loyalists to the Trump cause and, despite being a notably uninspiring collection of orators, you’d have to think Pat McCrory or Patrick McHenry could rouse as much right-wing ardor as Donald Trump, Jr. girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.
The bottom line: For a group that hoped to turn North Carolina red by bringing its national convention to Charlotte, the party of Trump has evidenced precious little appreciation for, or connection to, the state’s Republican elected officials.