Repeal HB2, Republican legislator says in NC GOP-funded mailer

Rep. Chris Malone speaks on the state House floor in 2013.
Rep. Chris Malone speaks on the state House floor in 2013. cseward@newsobserver.com

In a campaign mailer funded by the N.C. Republican Party, GOP state Rep. Chris Malone is calling for the “full repeal” of House Bill 2.

Malone, a Wake Forest Republican, voted for the controversial bill during the March special session. He now faces a tough re-election fight against Democrat Terence Everitt in a district that includes Wake Forest, Rolesville and parts of eastern Wake County.

“HB2 is costing Wake County and North Carolina too much,” Malone writes in the mailer. “I call for a full repeal of HB2 now. I also support adding anti-discrimination language to state laws. I call upon law enforcement to enforce existing laws banning inappropriate behavior in public facilities.”

Malone is the sixth Republican legislator to call for repeal or major changes to HB2. He did not return calls seeking comment last month when the other Republicans made their announcements about the issue.

Asked if the N.C. Republican Party supports Malone’s call for repeal, executive director Dallas Woodhouse said the content of the mailer is “authorized and designed by the Malone for N.C. House campaign.”

“It is my understanding that Malone has adopted the same position as many of our elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, that both the Charlotte ordinance and HB2 should be repealed,” Woodhouse said in an email Wednesday. “Malone and Republicans believe that would have happened already if Roy Cooper had not leaned on legislative Democrats supporting compromise, telling them that turmoil was better for Democrats than solutions.”

Malone’s mailer does not say the repeal must be conditional on a compromise with Charlotte leaders. He said he changed his mind on the law last month after it “became a distraction from important issues.”

“Last month, I concluded that we have plenty of laws already on the books to prevent inappropriate behavior in bathrooms,” he told The N&O. “We should enforce those laws to stop the few bad apples in the bunch, and stay focused on recruiting more business and industry to North Carolina.”

Malone’s stance puts him at odds with Gov. Pat McCrory, who was asked in a Time Warner Cable News interview broadcast Tuesday “what happens with HB2” if he’s re-elected.

“I don’t know if anything in particular happens,” he said, adding that “clarification” is needed on sexual orientation and gender identity issues at the federal level. “There’ll never be a repeal of the restroom, locker room or shower ordinance. That’s going to be determined by the Supreme Court.”

Malone’s about-face on the issue prompted criticism from Everitt’s campaign.

“It seems the only person who could finally convince Chris Malone that HB2 was causing real damage was his pollster – and only because that damage is threatening to end his political career,” campaign manager Ryan Ash said in a news release.