Many people believed that Tim Moore, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, would run for Congress in 2022. Certainly, his colleagues in the legislature did. In fact, they cleverly centered his residence in Cleveland County in an incumbent-free, Republican-heavy congressional district. Madison Cawthorn, on the other hand, arrived.
Moore’s ambitions were disrupted Thursday when the freshman representative from Western North Carolina revealed his decision to shift congressional districts. Cawthorn will run in the newly constructed 13th Congressional District, rather than the 14th Congressional District, which was drawn with him as the lone incumbent by state lawmakers. Moore later confirmed that he will not run for president in 2022, instead opting to run for re-election as Speaker of the House next year.
Though he didn’t mention Moore by name, Cawthorn stated in his announcement that he believed that if he didn’t run, another “establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican” would win the 13th district. Yes, you read that correctly. Tim Moore, a conservative stalwart who even went on a “Stop the Steal” field trip to Pennsylvania, is now regarded as an establishment Republican.
That speaks a lot about what the Republican Party has evolved into, especially in North Carolina, where Trumpism is on the rise. Moore and his fellow Republicans, however, are the ones who brought us — and themselves — to this point. Too many of them stood by and watched as extremists like Cawthorn lied and used fear to gain power. They had the power to stop it, but they were too often persuaded to do so, especially when they believed it would result in more money, endorsements, and votes. Unconditional fealty, it turns out, isn’t as politically beneficial as Republicans had hoped. They haven’t yet figured out what others have known for a long time: people like Cawthorn who have no loyalty but to themselves.
If it weren’t so irritating, it may even be humorous. When it came to tailoring Moore’s designer district, Republicans got very creative, effectively disenfranchising significant sections of voters and double-bunking numerous incumbents in the process. They had the audacity to call the process “unbiased” and the maps “fair,” insulting voters’ intelligence. Moore is no longer running in that district — or any district for that matter — and we may still be stuck with their unfair maps, despite the fact that lawsuits are ongoing.
It’s even less amusing than even Tim Moore no longer appears to be Republican enough to run in a Republican primary. Moore has been a member of the General Assembly since Cawthorn was in elementary school, and is one of the most prominent men in state government. Despite representing parts of Western North Carolina for nearly two decades, he appears to be admitting that he may not have enough support there to defeat a 26-year-old conspiracy theorist who regularly undermines the integrity of elections and has been accused of sexual misconduct on multiple occasions.
Republicans, like everyone else, must occasionally endure the consequences of their own behavior, but for Democrats, it’s only pleasant if you forget how much it hurts. Moore’s party isn’t the only one who has to pay the price. Moore put his political goals ahead of voters, and in the end, no one — not even Moore — came out on top.