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The National Media Has Found Out About Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson – Can He Handle the Criticism?

Source: Washington Post

A recent Washington Post article looked at Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and his campaign for governor, highlighting his long history of offensive comments and the concerns his hateful rhetoric has given rise to among political observers, including some Republicans.

The Washington Post’s piece, which is titled “Offensive comments by N.C. Republican stand out even in Trump’s party,” highlights several offensive statements that have become the norm in North Carolina that are now appearing nationally. This coverage will only continue to follow Robinson until election day.

Robinson complained about the media’s coverage of his speeches, saying that his words have been mischaracterized and that “Whenever [the media] mention my name they always mention my name in conjunction with social issues and how I hate everybody.” 

Much like his idol, Donald Trump, Robinson is a thin-skinned master of dishing it out and then complaining about the response. Now that he’s officially the Republican candidate for governor, Robinson will need to toughen up.

Robinson isn’t the only one whinging about being mistreated – in typical Republican fashion, his campaign spokesperson and supporters told The Washington Post that Democrats only care about smearing Robinson and that they (his supporters) believe his controversial statements are “fake news” planted by Democrats.

“It’s sad but not surprising that there’s no low the Democrats and their allies in the media won’t stoop to smear Mark Robinson,” said spokesperson Mike Lonergan.

Ed Broyhill, a Republican National Committee member from North Carolina and a supporter of Robinson, told The Washington Post that one of Robinson’s most-scrutinized Facebook posts — a 2018 screed against the film “Black Panther” that mentions Israeli currency and uses a Yiddish slur for Black people — said, “I can’t help but think that that’s been manufactured by some opposition.”

If by “opposition” Broyhill means “Mark Robinson himself” then he would be correct since the post is still on Robinson’s Facebook page. Not that Broyhill or Robinson’s supporters care, but all it would take is about 15 seconds of searching online to find everything Robinson has supposedly been “smeared” over.

“Even in a Republican Party that … has often rewarded crude insults, baseless claims and incendiary language, Robinson stands out among candidates this year for the volume of his bigoted attacks and vicious diatribes,” the article states.

Aside from Trump, it’s rare that candidates so full of hate have a shot at winning an election. Usually, these candidates are seen as cannon fodder in uncompetitive races – but not Robinson.

That fact is not lost on some members of the GOP because even some Republicans are tired of Robinson’s act and are concerned that he will lose in November because of his rhetoric.

“He is history’s latest example of someone trying to rise to power through hate,” said Dale Folwell, the Republican state treasurer, who also ran for governor.

Bill Graham, an attorney and two-time failed gubernatorial candidate, also hit out against Robinson and his comments (despite Graham mostly agreeing with Robinson on issues like abortion and LGBTQ+ rights).

Graham told The Washington Post that he got into the gubernatorial race believing that national Republicans would help sideline Robinson, and he felt betrayed when they didn’t step in. 

“They’ll just play the Mark Robinson top-10 hit parade. They won’t need to say a word,” said Graham, predicting Josh Stein and Democrats’ strategy against Robinson.

Graham said that he met with the Republican Governors Association in the summer of 2023 to explore a run, portraying himself as a more palatable alternative to Robinson, but told them he could only win the primary with major third-party spending against the lieutenant governor.

“The RGA was worried about Robinson. They may deny that, but they were,” Graham said.

Graham said he moved ahead under the impression that an outside spending campaign against Robinson was in the works. Paul Shumaker, his chief strategist, said the same and added that the RGA sought the Graham team’s input on a group to lead the effort. But no such spending materialized and Graham ended up personally spending millions of dollars to attack Robinson, to no avail.

It’s unlikely, even with massive outside spending against Robinson, that Graham or Folwell would have gotten the nomination, but it doesn’t change the fact that Republicans made their bed and now they have to lie in it.

“Listening to Republicans on and off Jones Street” — where the General Assembly is located in Raleigh — there’s a sense that “while he may be the voice of the party, he’s not the voice of North Carolina,” Jonathan Bridges, who managed GOP former congressman Mark Walker’s short-lived campaign for governor, told The Washington Post.

The GOP has swept Senate and presidential races in North Carolina for the last decade-plus, but Democrats have won the governor’s mansion in seven of the past eight election cycles.

The last Republican governor, Pat McCrory, faced massive criticism and lost reelection after signing House Bill 2, a 2016 bill that required transgender people to use the bathroom matching their sex at birth. The law would have cost the state billions in business and was ultimately repealed. 

Within the last month, Robinson has indicated that he would be in support of bringing back a bill like HB 2. In two campaign speeches he made in early February, Robinson said that if he’s governor, transgender people who use the bathroom that matches their gender identity “will be arrested” and that “If you are confused, find a corner outside somewhere to go.”

Robinson’s critics say he will regret pushing LGBTQ+ issues to the forefront again.

There are also serious concerns about Robinson’s beliefs on abortion, which he has called “murder,” and has also said that abortion should be illegal without any exceptions, including in cases of rape or incest. He also said he believes that school shootings are “karma” for legalized abortions.

“I don’t care if you’re 24 hours pregnant. I don’t care if you’re 24 weeks pregnant. I don’t care. If you kill that young’un, it is murder,” Robinson told a church in 2021.

Despite Robinson’s very public history of his beliefs about abortion, he is now attempting to gaslight voters by claiming he doesn’t recall making his anti-abortion statements – at the same time that he continues to go on TV and radio to reiterate those beliefs.

Robinson “will be the most extreme candidate that is nominated for governor by either party in the last 50 years in North Carolina,” said Morgan Jackson, chief strategist for Attorney General Josh Stein’s gubernatorial campaign.


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