North Carolina Republicans fuming after Mark Meadows retirement clears way for wife's friend to replace him
Congressman Mark Meadows speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It appears Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) timed his surprise retirement to help a friend of his wife gain an advantage in the race to replace him.

The Tea Party conservative announced he would leave Congress for an as-yet-undefined role with President Donald Trump early Dec. 19, about 30 hours before the filing deadline in North Carolina, reported Politico.

Lynda Bennett, a GOP activist and real estate agent who is friends with the lawmaker's wife, launched her Republican primary campaign later that same day.

There's evidence that Bennett got a heads-up from Meadows, which has irritated other North Carolina Republicans.

"It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this happened, it just doesn’t," said Henderson city councilman Jeff Miller, the district's GOP nominee in 2010. "It just looks very suspicious."

Bennett's campaign website domain was registered Oct. 28 by Scott Meadows, who appears to the the lawmaker's brother, and her campaign Facebook page was created Dec. 18, the day before the retirement announcement, and late that night posted photos of herself with Meadows and his wife Debbie Meadows.

She was endorsed by the Asheville Tea PAC shortly after its board convened for an early morning conference call about 90 minutes after the retirement news broke.

A dozen Republicans filed to run before the deadline passed, but the field is thinner than might otherwise be expected because the announcement came two days after the deadline for candidates who filed for one office to withdraw and file for another, which left out any state legislators who are seeking re-election.

"It was very discourteous to other Republicans who were respecting Congressman Meadows and not primarying him for him to pull out this close to it and leave everybody in a lurch," Miller said.