A North Carolina newspaper issued a scathing editorial this weekend, condemning the state’s Republican Party for the “despicable rhetoric” pushed by far right lawmakers, including Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R).
The Durham Herald Sun editorial board denounced Cawthorn’s comments and conspiracy theories, noting that, in his less than two years in Congress, Cawthorn has “frequently ma[de] national headlines for all the wrong reasons.” They also rebuked Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the highest-ranking Republican in the state’s executive branch, for making similarly distasteful and incendiary comments while in office.
The editorial board went on to say that some of the blame belonged to the state’s party leaders.
The Republican Party of North Carolina has become “a party of extremism,” the editorial board said. “A party that, despite everything, has stood by former President Donald Trump.”
When Republicans were willing to call out Cawthorn and Robinson, the paper went on, they insisted that their criticisms be published anonymously. Because of that, Cawthorn and Robinson’s “despicable rhetoric” has been “enabled by the Republican establishment, the vast majority of whom said and did very little to stop it.”
The paper went on to condemn Cawthorn’s peddling of election fraud conspiracy theories, as well as his promise of “bloodshed” from Trump loyalists if election laws weren’t changed. They also denounced his recent labeling of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “thug.”
The paper’s board then reiterated its central thesis: that the Republican party was responsible for Cawthorn’s rise.
“Cawthorn and his ilk, abhorrent as they may be, are not exactly the problem. They’re a symptom of a greater one,” the board wrote. “Because this is what happens when you spend half a decade allying yourself with the former president and allow his poisonous, incendiary trademark to go unchecked.”
Cawthorn is running to remain in Congress in this year’s midterm elections in a new district that was drawn up as a result of the decennial redistricting process. Several voters in that district are challenging his candidacy, saying that, under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, he should be deemed ineligible to serve in any office ever again.
Under the terms of the third clause of that amendment, anyone who has previously held an office where they’ve sworn an oath to the United States is barred from holding office again if they’ve “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the country. That prohibition can only be lifted if two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to do so.
Voters in Cawthorn’s district are asking the North Carolina State Board of Elections to deem Cawthorn as an insurrectionist, and thus restrict him from running for office. They’ve cited a number of reasons why he shouldn’t be allowed to serve again, including his appearance at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol attack, where he told the crowd of Trump loyalists to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College, urging those in attendance to “lightly threaten” lawmakers that were going to approve the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.
After the 2020 election, Cawthorn also attended dozens of meetings with Trump campaign officials to discuss ways that Trump could overturn the results, the North Carolina voters said in their complaint.
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