Source: NC Newsline
State Rep. Keith Kidwell, a right-wing extremist Republican representing Beaufort County, has thrown his hat into the ring to become the next North Carolina House Speaker following the announcement that Rep. Tim Moore would not be running for a sixth term as speaker.
Kidwell is currently serving his third term in the House and is a leader of the House Freedom Caucus, an extremely conservative group of lawmakers that usually take positions even further to the right than many of the already-extreme right-wing Republican legislators.
The House speaker is one of the most powerful political positions in the entire state and House members vote for who they want to be speaker.
To get an idea of Kidwell’s politics, just look at House Bill 533. He was the primary sponsor of the bill that would have banned almost all abortions beginning at conception. Under the “Human Life Protection Act of 2023,” anyone who performed, induced, or attempted an abortion would be guilty of a felony and face a fine of at least $100,000.
Kidwell has also been outspoken about his suspicion about election results and led the push “to inspect voting machines for modems,” according to NC Newsline. In 2021, Kidwell and the House Freedom Caucus announced that they wanted to open up Durham County’s voting machines, though there was no evidence of any issues. The law does not allow for such an investigation so their plot failed.
Unsurprisingly, Kidwell has also opposed even the simplest COVID-19 safety measures, such as wearing a mask. According to NC Newsline, he said that Gov. Roy Cooper could not make him wear a mask. Had he worn a mask, it’s possible he wouldn’t have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in August 2021.
Disturbingly, it was discovered last year that, according to documents leaked in September 2021, since 2012 Kidwell was (and could still be) a member of the right-wing extremist militia group the Oath Keepers. That’s the same group whose founder and leader was sentenced to 18 years in prison in May for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.
Kidwell was quoted as telling Raw Story that “I am not going to exacerbate a theft of data from any organization, I’m going to refuse comment since the information was ill-gotten. That is just protection of people’s rights.”
It’s not just Kidwell’s extremist political beliefs that would make him an awful House speaker, he also doesn’t seem to be a particularly good person, either.
According to NC Newsline, during the debate on the 12-week abortion ban that is now state law, Kidwell was overheard referring to Democratic State Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams, who was sharing her abortion story on the floor, as belonging to the “Church of Satan.” The comment was made in response to Staton-Williams saying that she grew up in church.
Kidwell ended up losing his position as deputy whip in the House Republican caucus due to his comments. He remains the senior chairman of the House Finance Committee, though.
He was also one of two dozen House Republicans who in March voted against expanding Medicaid to 600,000 uninsured North Carolinians. He did so even after the plan was endorsed by Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger.
In 2022, Kidwell was quoted as saying that “government overreach” is “one of the main reasons I’m here. I don’t trust my government.”
As of now, two other House Republicans have announced they are running for speaker – Rules Committee Chairman Destin Hall and Republican majority leader John Bell.