North Carolina tests how Republicans see themselves after Trump

www.washingtonpost.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
Both moderates and Trump's core base are revolting against the party's divided reaction to the U.S. Capitol insurrection, potentially imperiling 2022 Senate hopes.
"There are many people who have turned their back on the Republican Party because they didn't feel their elected officials stood up enough for Trump," Walker said of what he has heard in recent weeks as he tours the state.

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Yet others are leaving because of Trump's actions, reflecting an outrage that recently led the state party's senior politician, Sen. Richard Burr, to vote to convict the former president of inciting an insurrection.

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"Just in the last day or so I've had several people tell me or call me or email me about how they are going to do the same thing," said Robert F. Orr, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice and onetime Republican gubernatorial candidate, who announced his resignation from the party last week. "With these people leaving, it really just reinforces that it's a Donald Trump cult, and most people don't want to be a part of it."

Big donors in the state are also going to ground, with local billionaire Jim Goodnight, who gave heavily to the Republican House and Senate efforts last year, signaling that none of his money henceforth will go to candidates who "did not support the integrity of the election process, which is so vital to our democracy," according to a spokesman.

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Less than two months after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the U.S. Capitol and highlighted the extent to which the former president retains his grip on the GOP's most ardent supporters, the early jockeying ahead of the 2022 race to replace Burr is exposing the inherent challenges in rebuilding a coalition that can win in closely contested states.

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The risks for a deeply pro-Trump party were clear in the GOP's stunning losses in two Georgia runoffs in December, and now Republican leaders are struggling to avoid a similar setback in another changing Southern state. Adding to the complexity is the prospect of a Trump family member, daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump, entering the race, as party leaders assess how to balance the need to…
Michael Scherer, Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey
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