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Dueling conservative endorsements in the race to replace Mark Meadows

by Resurgent Insider Read Profile arrow_right_alt

In less than two weeks (March 3), Republicans in Rep. Mark Meadows’ district will go to the polls to select a GOP nominee to replace the retiring congressman.

The race is generating a lot of drama, partly due to dueling endorsements. 

Meadows has decided to endorse Lynda Bennett, a close friend of his wife whose campaign has been dogged by accusations that she is a “stealth” Never Trumper. 

Meanwhile, following revelations of this alleged “stealth” Never Trumpism, Sen. Tom Cotton—himself a strong ally of the President—yesterday endorsed a different candidate, Dan Driscoll.

The differing endorsements seem to reflect different recruitment priorities by different conservative allies of the President. 

Meadows, who announced he would not run for re-election at the last minute, giving an advantage to his wife’s friend Bennett who magically had all the pieces in place to announce a run of her own, is married to Debbie Meadows. 

Mrs. Meadows runs the Right Women PAC, a sort of EMILY’s List group aimed at electing more Republican women, it would seem irrespective of the qualifications, ideology and other attributes of the rest of the field in any given race.

Meanwhile, Cotton, a veteran, appears to want more former explicitly conservative servicemembers—of either gender— in Congress.

Bennett, a realtor, doesn’t meet those criteria. That’s setting aside that if Cotton did his homework before endorsing, he probably saw that Bennett is engulfed in something of a saga involving her 2016 Never Trumpism that appears to have drifted quite a bit past the 2016 election, when Never Trumpism was more prevalent within the GOP ranks.

Here’s some background.

Like many people, Bennett was a supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2016 GOP primary. Take a look at the picture of her below and here, from the Twitter feed of the Haywood 9-12 TEA Party, a group she chaired and allegedly founded.

Bennett appears to have had access to that Twitter account, possibly even controlling or dictating its content; it promotes her realty business for example here (Google the Heritage Realty number and her picture actually pops up). This would be basically impossible if she weren’t in charge of the account or if she couldn’t approve or veto its content.

So this makes it interesting that the account was posting a litany of Never Trump content until very late in the 2016 general election, and reverted to a bunch of Never Trumpy content post-election.

Here’s a great example that Joe Cunningham at RedState dug up from 2016, in which the account compares Trump to Stalin and Hitler (yes, really):

March 30, 2017 was an especially Never Trumpy day when the account retweeted Never Trumper Justin Amash, who subsequently left the GOP over his Never Trumpism and voted to impeach President Trump in the House.

Bennett was also busted in audio either letting her true Never Trumper shine, or doing a Meryl Streep-quality impersonation of a Never Trumper, during a local GOP meeting on the exciting topic of palm cards.

Here’s the transcript:

I’m a Never Trump person, I don’t want Trump.  I am a Never Trump [inaudible] I want him taken off that palm card or I’m not helping you guys, that’s what I’m hearing.  So Never Trump is a big movement, and you guys are all denying it.  And you’re acting like, well I can be never this person, I can be never that person, but you can’t be Never Trump.  And you can’t be Never Trump.  But I’m Never Trump, so now what?  What are you going to do?  You’re gonna ask me to get out there and help Trump get elected and you want me to help organize 100 people to come and work the polls to get Trump elected when I am not for him, I am against him.  Never Trump!  Never Trump!

Bennett has said she’s just a good actress. But her group’s Twitter content hints at her actually being what she said on the tape.

So is Bennett a Never Trumper now? She certainly cuts the profile of someone who is enthusiastically pro-Trump today—but then again, she’s running in a GOP primary in a very pro-Trump district trying to replace Mark Meadows. What GOP candidate in their right mind wouldn’t claim to be the world’s biggest fan of the President?

What about in 2016 or 2017? The evidence suggests she sure wasn’t a fan of Trump then.

Of course, lots of conservatives and Republicans weren’t, and nominations probably shouldn’t be decided based on who does or does not appear to be the biggest fan of a currently popular personality, and rather should be decided based on issues and records.

That seems to be what Cotton is saying with his endorsement: Let’s elect a guy with national security experience, business experience, who is a known, strong supporter of the Second Amendment.

Unless one is deeply concerned about the bad optics of the GOP looking more and more male based on its elected officeholders, it’s not really clear based on what we know why Bennett should get this nomination, whereas Cotton seems to be making a better, more principled argument for a candidate not dogged by something that could prove to be a real anchor around the neck in an election in this specific district. 

As an aside, voter registration records indicate that Bennett also has not exactly been a lifelong Republican.

Apparently, it took her almost a year into Barack Obama’s presidency to decide to join the GOP.

This was after a campaign in which Obama pledged massive new spending and tax hikes, and after immediately upon assuming office began a push for a stimulus package that rankled the Tea Party, plus bailouts, Obamacare and cap and trade.

Maybe Tom Cotton also knows this and wonders why it took her so long to clue up? Or maybe he just really thinks we need more veterans in Congress.

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