WASHINGTON, D.C. – State House member and surgeon Greg Murphy (R-Pitt) beat Pediatrician and first-time candidate Joan Perry by about 20 points in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff election to fulfill the term of late Congressman Walter Jones. The margin of loss for Perry has apparently sparked shock among women in congress and pro-women PACs that backed the first time candidate.
From the Hill:
“[…] Lawmakers said the scale of the loss highlighted the challenges faced by Republicans to recruit and get more female candidates elected after the number of female Republican lawmakers in the House dropped from 23 to 13 following last year’s midterms.
Lawmakers and outside groups also vowed to reevaluate their recruitment strategy for female candidates at a time when Democrats elected a record number of female lawmakers last year, many in key suburban swing districts that Republicans would need to win back to regain the House in 2020.
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) said she was “shocked” by the margin by which Perry lost the race, calling it a moment that brought into “stark reality” the challenges faced by female GOP candidates.
“It’s just exceedingly difficult,” she told The Hill about trying to close the GOP gender gap. “So we regroup, we find out where we were lacking, what the weaknesses were, and we address it. […]”
What is wrong with this picture? Essentially, it’s identity politics — more specifically, gender politics — and it is adopt directly from the Democrats’ playbook. With all due respect to Dr. Perry (who is a wonderful and impressive person all around), the GOP establishment has evidently adopted the gender politics of the Left, as if electing more women is an end in itself.
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), quoted above, seems to think that the ‘challenges faced by female GOP candidates’ were exclusively gender related. That Perry’s challenge, and ultimate loss, was because she is a woman.
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This is an ignorant perspective. It is ignorant of the fact that North Carolina’s Third Congressional District is very conservative, and that the dynamics of this particular runoff pitted one camp of high ID national conservatives against relatively more establishment-friendly moderate groups and figures.
Do Walorski and others really think this clear dichotomy had nothing to do with Perry’s 20 point loss in a very anti-establishment district? In conservative eastern North Carolina, the House Freedom Fund and it’s nationally recognized leaders versus Winning for Women and their moderate cohorts, and they think it’s gender that did Perry, who literally cut an ad for a Democrat congressman a few short years ago, in?
This is insulting to Republican primary voters in the Third District. They are much more discerning than to be wooed by gender politics.
It is worth mentioning, of course, that Greg Murphy was not with out conservative detractors. His most high profile legislative proposal is viewed among conservatives as Medicaid expansion by a different name. It is also an example of accepting a core premise of the Left – that government has a role in providing health insurance and redistributing wealth in order to do it. Offering a new subsidized government health insurance program for low income people, merely with less fiscal irresponsibility than competing Democrat proposals, still relies on the same fatal conceit. It is not conservative, or consistent with limited government and free markets.
In spite of that, Murphy was embraced by the House Freedom Caucus. He got praised by conservative pundit and talk juggernaut Sean Hannity. The deluge of conservative endorsements and alliances obviously diluted voter concerns that Murphy would push Big Government Healthcare on Capitol Hill.
The end result makes it clear that the endorsement battle between the two candidates, and how the respective endorsements defined the respective candidates in the minds of Third District Republican voters, was a very significant factor. The difference in experience and know-how in targeting those voters was probably a large factor as well, to be sure.
This is in no way ‘shocking’ – especially in eastern North Carolina.
If the GOP caucus continues to embrace the Left’s premise of identity politics in an attempt to elect more women for the mere sake of electing more women, they do so to their own detriment. Instead they’d do better to make the first vetting screen consist of documented support for the actual platform of the Party and the founding liberty principles of our nation, in vetting their recruits, whether they be men or women, and invest in them.
However close to a pipe dream expecting the Establishment to recruit conservatives may be, at least that way Republican voters like those in the Third District won’t have to hold their noses and rely on endorsement ‘chasers’ to define their ballot choices.