Source: Editorial Board
Right-wing extremists in New Hanover County, one of the most politically evenly split counties in the state, are once again trying to take over the school board, even with Republicans now having a majority on the board.
Five Republicans are running in the primary and vying for three spots on the ballot this fall. Below, we’ll take a look at each of the five candidates: Natosha Tew, Nikki Bascome, Aubrey Tuell, David Perry and Kimberly McDuffie Murphy
Tew is the chair of the New Hanover County chapter of Moms for Liberty (MFL). According to the Wilmington StarNews, Tew started the first chapter of Moms for Liberty in Eastern North Carolina in the summer of 2022 because she believed that the school system “far overreached their role and purpose” and that parents were too scared to speak up. Moms for Liberty is a national “social welfare group” that fights for “parents’ rights” and has hundreds of chapters across the country, including at least 12 in North Carolina. According to MFL’s website, its main goal is to fight “for the survival of America,” which, judging by the actions of these “parents’ rights” groups, means getting books banned from schools in North Carolina and across America.
Bascome presents herself online as just your average parent who is simply running for school board because they care about education in their district…but that ignores the truth. According to a Facebook post from the group “NC United for Liberty” in 2021, “fellow freedom fighter” Nikki Bascome created a map of North Carolina counties and their school mask policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The map was a way to highlight which school districts required masks, (and thus were somehow violating human rights) and which districts didn’t have strict COVID-19 policies that required masking.
Tuell is the youngest candidate running and at 23 years old, she only recently graduated from UNC-Wilmington. Although she’s young, Tuell has years of experience being a member of a far-right organization – she founded the UNCW chapter of Turning Point USA, a right-wing student organization founded by Charlie Kirk, a well-known racist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, Christian nationalist and conspiracy theorist. Turning Point USA is so extreme that the ADL’s Center on Extremism has a lengthy section on its website that highlights much of the group’s disturbing history since its formation in 2012. Last year, in a race for the New Hanover County GOP’s secretary position, right-wing group Tide Turners NC endorsed Tuell, calling her a “Proven Patriot.”
If you see a picture of David Perry you likely wouldn’t think that he’d be a right-wing extremist, but as the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
That is certainly the case here. Taking a look at Perry’s website, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that he may be one of the most dangerous candidates running in the GOP primary. Perry is running on a platform of “eliminating indoctrination” such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. He also calls for the firing of the county’s Black superintendent, Dr. Charles Foust, because he supports DEI, brought workforce training to high schools, “violated parental rights” by “filling our school libraries with age-inappropriate and often obscene material,” opened a Newcomers School with “the sole purpose of serving the children of recent immigrants (both legal and illegal),” and because he “displayed his utter disdain and disrespect for the Constitution” by saying that it was not “written for him” because he is Black.
If that’s not bad enough, Perry also worked with the Republican Liberty Caucus and campaigned on behalf of right-wing extremist Melissa Mason, who ran for and won a seat on the NHCBOE in 2022. Mason is now the vice-chair of the school board.
In February 2023, he wrote on Facebook that the Proud Boys, who began showing up at school board meetings in full yellow and black attire with masks on their faces, should “take the masks off” because “their presence only hurts our efforts … [and] it’s just more ammo for the media to label us all as extremists.” To his credit, he’s right about that – except he also wrote that “I know these guys stood up for the right thing” and that “next time, please just take the colors and the masks off and join us as everyday citizens.” Colors and masks or not, the Proud Boys are a militant, violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic right-wing extremist organization.
In another Facebook post, Perry also targeted fellow candidate Kimberly McDuffie Murphy because she has changed her party registration multiple times – she was a Democrat for almost 11 years, then unaffiliated for almost 3 years, a Republican for 5 years, a Democrat for 2 years and a Republican since June 2022.
Perry wrote that Murphy “has not outlined how she will stand up for conservative policies on our school board” and that “We can’t afford to elect another RINO” to our school board. He then highlighted his conservative bona fides – he grew up a registered Republican, worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign in high school, and has “occasionally been disillusioned by the GOP and their lack of dedication to conservative principles.”
Kimberly McDuffie Murphy:
Information about Murphy is hard to come by. She is a long-time educator and assistant principal of Jacksonville High School in Onslow County. Her website is not informative and doesn’t focus on issues. Her Facebook page is mostly made up of videos of Murphy talking about why she’s running for school board, but it does include the Reagan quote, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
For more information on how to vote in the upcoming primary election, please visit the NC Board of Elections.