Source: New York Times
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson hasn’t even announced that he’s running for governor and The New York Times Opinion page is already slamming his potential candidacy over his history of homophobia, antisemitism and anti-science positions.
Duke University professor Frank Bruni, writing for The New York Times, said that everyone should care about North Carolina’s governor’s race, “Not because this state is the nation’s ninth most populous…But because what happens here is a referendum on how low Republicans will sink and how far they can nonetheless get.”
The only candidate who has officially announced a gubernatorial run is Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, but Robinson has strongly hinted that he will run. Bruni called Stein “a mostly conventional choice, with a long resume of public service,” and noted that Stein would be the state’s first Jewish governor.
Writing about Robinson, Bruni highlighted the fact that he’d be the state’s first Black governor and then wrote, “…that’s the beginning, middle, and end of anything forward-looking and progress-minded about him, and he’s extremism incarnate: gun-loving, gay-hating and primed for conspiracy theories, with a garnish of antisemitism to round out the plate.”
As Bruni notes, Robinson has not officially declared a bid, and even if or when he does, he could still face a primary challenge “from a less provocative rival.”
Bruni also highlights the impact that a Gov. Robinson would have on the types of companies and workers who are considering coming to North Carolina.
“His election would almost certainly [slow] the state’s economic dynamism by repelling the sorts of companies and educated young workers attracted to it during the six years that Gov. Roy Cooper…has been in office.”
Mentioning Stein, Bruni wrote about the attorney general’s announcement and its focus on the awful things Robinson has said.
According to Bruni, the purpose of Stein’s focus on Robinson is that he’s “making clear that a Stein vs. Robinson race would in large measure hinge on the question of how much bigotry and divisiveness Republican and independent voters in North Carolina are willing to endorse, indulge or be persuaded to overlook. Given what a national mirror this state is, the answer will have relevance and resonance far beyond it.”
Citing an Assembly article written by Tim Funk, Bruni quoted Funk’s description of Robinson: “In the Gospel According to Mark Robinson, the United States is a Christian nation, guns are part of God’s plan, abortion is murder, climate change is ‘Godless … junk science,’ and the righteous, especially men, should follow the example of the Jesus who cleansed the temple armed with a whip, and told his disciples to make sure they packed a sword.”
“Robinson’s religion is indeed the whipping, slashing kind. It mingles cruelty and snark,” Bruni wrote.
Giving a quick rundown of some of Robinson’s greatest hits, the NYT op-ed quotes his position on homosexuality (“filth”), the transgender rights movement (“demonic”), and his obsession with the devil and his apparent role in the movie “Black Panther” (the movie was “created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by satanic Marxist,” he said in a poorly-written Facebook post).
“His whole persona could use some copy-editing. It’s all exclamation points,” Bruni wrote. “But that’s his power, too.”
Bruni spoke with Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, who told him that “Mark Robinson is extremely popular with the Republican base and the Republican rank and file.”
Cooper went on to say that “Robinson has many of the same advantages” that Donald Trump had when he would give “the finger to ‘the establishment,'” despite the fact that some Republicans thought he went too far.
Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy professor Mac McCorkle told Bruni that despite Robinson seemingly having solid support from state Republicans and the fact that North Carolinians have elected a number of extremists like Robinson to Congress, voters have never chosen someone like that to be governor and run the day-to-day functions of the state.
“Do people want somebody prosecuting the culture wars when there’s a hurricane?” McCorkle asked. He said he doesn’t think so. “We haven’t had a shouter as governor, well, ever.”
Bruni ended his piece with a succinct summary of the current state of the Republican Party:
“…we hadn’t had a spectacle like the far-right rebellion against the ascent of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in at least a century and a half. We hadn’t had a House speaker coddle the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene until Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Republican Party has gone off the rails but keeps hurtling forward, damage be damned. We’d be foolish in North Carolina to trust that we won’t be part of the wreckage.”