Today was Day 2 of Erica Smith's 100 counties in 100 days tour of North Carolina. This morning, she and Gary Chambers met voters at the Durham Bull Bronze Sculpture and this evening they talked with voters in Raleigh's Moore Square Park. While Smith was listening to voters' concerns and talking with them about her vision for a progressive and equitable North Carolina, Trump was 99 miles away in Greenville-- an hour and twenty minute drive down U.S. 264. "While Trump is here today, " Erica told me between stops, "he won't be here forever. Democrats have been let off the hook these past 4 years because opposition to Trump has often been enough. We cannot use Trump as a crutch or as an excuse to not embrace the structural changes that our corrupt government, rigged economy, and broken healthcare system require. It isn't enough just to run against someone. You need to run on something. Working people don't care what names you call Trump, they care what you're going to do to raise their wages, to improve their healthcare, to ensure that a roof stays over their head and that the air they breathe and the water they drink remain clean. This moment calls for candidates running on bold and progressive platforms. Not one's running away from them and hiding behind our disgraced former President."
If Erica Smith is all about a progressive vision for North Carolina's working and middle class, Trump's speech at the North Carolina GOP convention was all about himself-- and his grievances against Facebook, Fauci, and all the regulars and about his idiotic claim to have won the election. He did win in North Carolina, narrowly-- 49.93% to 48.59%-- at least in part because of a crappy conservative Democratic Senate candidate, compliments of Schumer, whose flailing campaign dragged Biden down in Robeson, Bladen, Martin, Granville, Gates and Scotland counties.
Trump harping on the past, though, isn't something other Republicans running for office want. One top staffer to a House Republican told me that Republicans in swing districts would "like to see him fall off a boat and be eaten by sharks... It would generate a sympathy vote without all the negativity he brings to the table. He may be good for candidates in overwhelming red districts... [but] in districts like ours he's toxic. Wing voters don't like him; that's why he lost last time."
Trump doesn't care about these kinds of sentiments and rarely thinks beyond himself. He wouldn't care if his presence on the ballot helps Erica Smith neat McCrory or Walker or whomever the North Carolina GOP runs-- just as long as he wins the state in 2024 if he decides to run. And if he doesn't run... the limelight-- with its attendant opportunities for more grifting-- certainly is more important to him than the careers of any Republican politicians.
By the way, you can contribute to Erica Smith's campaign-- help her pay for some gas-- here. The last thing we need is another Republican-lite Schumer candidate to lose North Carolina again. The two establishment shills running against Erica, were both campaigning today, not on ideas to make Carolinians' lives better, but on rather pointlessly disparaging Trump.
As Dan Balz wrote this morning in a piece about how Republicans-- like it or not-- are inexorably tied to Trump and his failed coup, "Trump, who according to recent reports is consumed with fantasy that audits of the 2020 election will result in his reinstatement as president, will continue to insert himself in GOP primaries and upcoming general elections. Every Republican, whether running in a primary in a red state or district or needing swing voters in a general election contest in a swing state, will have to calibrate how much or how little to embrace him. Bush and Pence are two examples of this, but they will have plenty of company as the party continues to grapple with Trump’s legacy and future ambitions."