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Proving That Their ‘Big Tent’ Isn’t So Big, NCGOP Censures Sen. Thom Tillis For Supporting Marriage Equality, Immigration Reform

Source: WRAL

Once again proving that their claims to being a “big tent” party are complete BS, the North Carolina Republican Party censured one of the key members of their party, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, for being too liberal on gay marriage, immigration and gun control, WRAL reported.

Delegates at this month’s annual NCGOP convention voted to censure Tillis for votes that went against the party’s view on key issues.

Tillis, who is the state’s senior U.S. senator, has served in Congress since 2015 and in fairness to him, has toned down some of his right-wing tendencies that he was famous for while serving as House speaker in the state legislature. In recent years, Tillis has worked with Democrats on a variety of legislation, some of which are the most sacred issues for right-wing Republicans – gay marriage, guns and immigration.

Conservatives in the state party have been highly offended by Tillis’ work across the aisle. The official censure resolution against Tillis did not specify individual votes he made, but instead said he was being censured for “blatant violations of our party platform.”

A Tillis spokesperson said after the vote that the senator “keeps his promises and delivers results,” and former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory also spoke out in Tillis’ defense, tweeting that he hoped all the state’s elected officials would stand behind the senator.

That was not the case at the convention.

One state representative who supported the censure, Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union) told WRAL that the censure can be traced back to years ago when Tillis initially opposed Donald Trump’s plan to move millions of dollars from military construction projects in order to fund building a wall along the border with Mexico. Tillis did end up changing his mind and supporting Trump’s wall plan, but Brody said conservatives have not forgotten his initial opposition.

Brody added that the final nail in the coffin for the base of the party was Tillis’ work on the Respect For Marriage Act in 2022. That legislation codified legal protections for same-sex marriage and interracial marriage. The Republican Party, in both its national and state party platforms, officially opposes same-sex marriage rights.

Daniel Keylin, a spokesperson for Tillis, defended his record and his employer’s conservative bona fides.

“He will never apologize for his work passing the largest tax cut in history, introducing legislation to secure the border and end sanctuary cities, delivering desperately-needed funding to strengthen school safety, and protecting the rights of churches to worship freely based on their belief in traditional marriage,” Keylin wrote in an email to WRAL.

Wayne King, a former vice chairman of the NCGOP, told WRAL that he believes Tillis is personally responsible for a lot of the party’s success in recent years and that censuring him for working across the aisle is the exact wrong message to send to voters in such a closely divided state like North Carolina.

“This sends a terrible message to independents that the NCGOP is no longer a big tent party … and if it continues, North Carolina will become a blue state,” King said.

The fact that some Republicans can admit that their party doesn’t behave like the big tent party they claim to be is rather ironic considering the whole reason ex-Democratic state Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) switched parties back in April. 

She told reporters, “I’ve suffered many attacks since I’ve been up here, from Democrats in the party, from blasting me on Twitter, to calling me names, to going after my family, going after my children,” she said. “They certainly will slice and dice you in a second with malicious, vicious, untrue rumors and do not celebrate your success.”

Aside from that being untrue, as proven by text messages and records, that is, in effect, what the state party has just done to Tillis with their censure vote. If Cotham thinks Democrats tried forcing her hand on certain votes, she’s going to be shocked the first time she steps out of line with the NCGOP.

Although the party’s censure vote has no real impact – it can’t remove Tillis from power – it does serve as a message that the NCGOP base doesn’t value bipartisanship when it comes to working on some of the country’s biggest problems.

“As a party, we can be a squishy party and say, ‘Well, we’re going to try to appeal to everybody,’” Brody told WRAL. “Or we can set a standard, and say ‘This is where we want to go,’ and let the public decide.”

The public may not have made any decisions at the NCGOP convention, but the party’s conservative activists sure did.

Charles Hellwig, a Republican political consultant who worked against Tillis in a previous primary race, told WRAL he was shocked by the vote because at least 66% of delegates need to vote for a resolution in order for it to pass.

“That’s a big hurdle to cross, getting two out of three delegates to support a motion like that,” Hellwig said. “It just demonstrates how unpopular he is among the grassroots activists and core party base.”


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