Thursday’s announcement that the NBA will move its All-Star Game out of Charlotte has House Bill 2 in the news again. But the debate over transgender bathroom use was largely absent from the Republican National Convention – with the exception of what an openly gay speaker had to say Thursday night.
Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, backing Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, angered some North Carolina delegates during his speech.
“When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union, and we won,” Thiel said. “Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?”
Some North Carolina Republicans do care, viewing the issue as a public safety concern. Several of the state’s delegates on the convention floor stood up and booed the comment, according to IndyWeek reporter Barry Yeoman.
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“He’s an open homosexual,” said Jeff Lominac, a Cruz delegate from Conover.
But some delegates from North Carolina liked Trump’s promise later in the evening to “protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”
“GOP salutes Trump stance on LGBTQIA community!” tweeted Dennis Berwyn, an alternate delegate from Raleigh.
Anti-porn platform from N.C. delegate
Speaking of social issues, a controversial provision in the Republican Party platform adopted last week came from a North Carolina delegate.
Mary Frances Forrester from Mount Holly, wife of the late N.C. Sen. James Forrester, proposed the platform amendment that describes internet pornography as “a public health crisis.”
“We know how big of a problem it is,” Forrester told The Guardian. “It is an insidious epidemic, and everyone knows that and that is not a controversy.”
Campaign cash for Richard Burr
Days after reports showed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross had raised more than incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr in the second quarter, NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes called on convention delegates to support Burr financially.
“There’s enough money to win the race but some of it’s still in our pockets,” Hayes said, introducing Burr at a delegation breakfast.
Ross raised $2.1 million in the quarter, according to her campaign. Burr raised about $1.6 million. It was the second quarter in a row in which Ross out-raised Burr.
But Burr said he’s not worried by the numbers. “We’ve hit our financial goals,” he told reporters at the convention. “We have $7 million in the bank. She has $2 million in the bank. I like my position much better.”
Burr said national Democrats are “funneling money” into the Ross campaign.
Meanwhile, Democrats on Friday questioned Burr’s announcement last week that he won’t run for office again after this year’s election. A news release from the N.C. Democratic Party noted that Burr called in 1999 for 12-year term limits for Congress. If he wins re-election this year, he’ll serve 18 years in the Senate following a 10-year stint in the U.S. House.
“Sen. Burr’s latest promise to retire rings hollow to North Carolina voters who are accustomed to Burr routinely going back on his word,” Democratic Party spokesman Matt Kravitz said.
Meredith students’ road trip for Trump
Five students from Meredith College drove 10 hours to Cleveland last week in the hopes of seeing Trump’s acceptance speech in person.
The N.C. Republican Party provided them with hard-to-get tickets to the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday night. Ivey Burgess, a junior from Harnett County, said she supported Trump in the primary.
“He wasn’t a politician and he said what wasn’t OK to say and that people didn’t want to hear, and he just went ahead and said it,” Burgess said. “I really like that.”
She says the College Republicans group at Meredith is relatively small but growing. “It’s hard to get college students that involved in politics,” she said.
Burgess says being inside the arena is a drastically different experience than watching on TV. “You hear and see a lot more when you’re there than you hear on TV,” she said, pointing to the boos and cursing she heard firsthand during Sen. Ted Cruz’s controversial speech on Wednesday.
N.C. delegates go on scavenger hunt
Besides voting on platforms and rules, engaging in floor fights, attending parties and nominating a presidential candidate, North Carolina Republican delegates had another task last week: a scavenger hunt.
The idea of NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse, it challenged delegates to accomplish 15 of 25 objectives, complete with photographic evidence. Woodhouse offered a cash prize for the winner.
Among the challenges:
▪ A photo of a protester with a misspelled sign.
▪ A selfie with Uncle Sam.
▪ A photo thanking a law enforcement officer.
▪ A selfie with a North Dakota delegate.
▪ Photo with a famous Ohio politician or athlete.
Colin Campbell and Jim Morrill
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