NC-03 Republican Runoff Splitting GOP Conference

NC-03 – From the large primary field (17), two Republican doctors emerged to fight on in North Carolina’s Third Congressional District Special Election, one of two special elections ongoing in the Old North State. Now, it appears Dr. Joan Perry and Dr. Greg Murphy are splitting the GOP conference in their bid to represent eastern North Carolina in congress.

From Roll Call:

“It’s North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows and the political arm of the House Freedom Caucus versus the Republican women in the chamber — all 13 of them — plus another male lawmaker from the North Carolina delegation.

Meadows, whose 11th District is in the western part of the state — far away from the open 3rd District on the East Coast — has endorsed state Rep. Greg Murphy, despite his support for a version of Medicaid expansion, which most conservatives would typically consider anathema. The House GOP women have backed pediatrician Joan Perry, who represents the party’s best chance to add another woman to its dwindling ranks this year.”

The article goes on to point out the unusual opposing stances of groups like FreedomWorks and the House Freedom Caucus:

“Meadows, the chairman of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus and a close Trump ally, has known Murphy since he got into the state Legislature in 2015. In February 2018, when Jones announced he would only seek one more term, Meadows had early conversations with Murphy about running for the 3rd District in 2020. […]

Meadows’ support for Murphy has put him at odds with FreedomWorks, which traditionally backs conservative candidates and has given Meadows himself a 95 percent lifetime score. FreedomWorks endorsed Perry, calling her a “principled conservative” and vowing to make several independent expenditures for her before the runoff. 

The Club for Growth, which is also usually aligned with candidates supported by the Freedom Caucus’ PAC, backed another woman in the primary, but has not yet made a determination on whether it will be involved in the runoff. […]”

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While each candidate is stacking up endorsements in hopes they carry votes come July 9, both also have issues detractors are quick to point out. As mentioned in the article above, Murphy’s sponsorship of a new federally subsidized low-income health insurance program, albeit not technically Medicaid expansion, leaves many questioning his conservative, limited government instincts.

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Likewise, Perry’s relatively recent campaigning for a NC Democrat for Congress in 2012 — a race narrowly lost by the Republican — as well as an apparent aversion to the House Freedom Caucus, also leaves many wondering how (in)consistently she may apply her conservative message outside the life issue.

You can read a lot more about the behind the scenes GOP jostling, identity politics, and wrangling of support for the Republican NC-03 nomination here. And while July 9 is just around the corner, there still awaits a general election scrum, and then the Third District gets to do it all over again next year.

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