WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus pandemic shifts to the Sun Belt, North Carolina Republicans are busy throwing science out the window instead of working with Governor Roy Cooper to keep North Carolinians safe. In recent weeks, the GOP majorities in the General Assembly have voted repeatedly to override Governor Cooper’s phased reopening plan even as confirmed infections continue to rise, and the session ended without changing the law to allow face masks in the state. The legislature even passed a bill that would limit the governor’s lifesaving emergency powers, recklessly jeopardizing the state’s public health response.
“North Carolina Republicans have long relied on extreme partisan gerrymandering to hold on to their majorities, and over the past few weeks we’ve seen why,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “They are totally out of touch with the problems facing their state, engaged in needless partisan battles while their constituents are looking for real leadership during this crisis. We’re going to make sure that voters hold the GOP accountable for their disastrous political stunts this November.”
In 2018, the DLCC and state Democrats broke the Republican supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly, giving Governor Cooper the ability to stop GOP insanity in its tracks. Even though a majority of North Carolinians voted for Democratic candidates that year, Republicans held on to their majorities. This November, Democrats need to flip just six House seats and five Senate seats to win control.
Republicans’ abject failure to respond to the crisis should come as no surprise. GOP incumbents — parroting the party line in Washington — have repeatedly downplayed the risks of the pandemic, openly questioned the guidance from public health experts and pushed to reopen too quickly. Incumbent Senator Bob Steinburg claimed the pandemic was a conspiracy to help Democrats win elections this fall, and Senator Joyce Krawiec drew comparisons between the coronavirus and the seasonal flu.
The events in North Carolina mirror Republican actions in states across the country as incumbent legislators have rushed to risk the health and safety of their constituents for the sake of reopening the economy. It’s looking increasingly likely that they will pay a price for their irresponsible response this November, as voters overwhelmingly report prioritizing health and safety.
“The blue wave is coming to North Carolina at all levels of the ballot this year,” added Post. “Try as they might, Republicans cannot outrun their failed leadership in November. We’re going to flip the North Carolina General Assembly and state legislatures across the country blue in just over four months.”