Local Republicans are working to undermine Donald Trump's preferred candidate for a North Carolina congressional seat.
The twice-impeached former president endorsed Bo Hines, a 26-year-old former college football player who lives two hours away from the newly drawn district centered around Johnson County, but local Republicans are trying to sink his campaign, reported Politico.
“It feels like it’s incumbent on us to make sure everybody understands that Bo Hines may be a fine fellow — I don’t know him — but the truth of it is he’s not a resident of the district,” said Linwood Parker, chair of the Johnston County Republican Men’s Organization. “He’s coming in, just trying to cherry pick a district he can win.”
Hines attended a meeting in December at Mar-A-Lago with Trump, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Senate candidate Mark Walker organized by Club for Growth president David McIntosh, and the group tried to broker an agreement that would clear the Senate field for Trump's preferred candidate, Rep. Ted Budd.
Court-ordered changes to the state's congressional map blew up Hines' original plan of running in a district closer to his home in Winston-Salem, so he ended up running in the new 13th district, which has no incumbents, but Republicans there say three other GOP candidates in the race better represent local interests -- and they're running print ads opposing Trump's pick.
“The Republican Party has been fortunate to be able to provide sound leadership and conservative government to the people of Johnston County over the past 34 years,” the ad says. “The reason has been our unity and the support of local candidates who campaign on issues important to the citizens of Johnson County."
“WE CAN’T SUPPORT Bo Hines, a candidate from WESTERN N.C. for our congressman,” it adds.
Another local group, Citizen Advocates for Accountable Government, is urging its network of conservative activists to turn voters against Hines with a statewide door-knocking campaign that will run every weekend until the May 17 primary.
“We’re all America First people, but we don’t need Mr. Trump or anybody else bringing candidates in who don’t know nothing about farming, don’t know anything about agriculture and the roads here and the needs we have,” said Dale Lands, who founded the group last year to pressure the state legislature on issues like election fraud and critical race theory.
Lands will still attend Trump's rally Saturday in Johnson County, but Parker will not, and the county's GOP chair said he hasn't decided, even though the event is a short drive from his house.
There has "been very little communication at all" between Trump's team and the local GOP, said party chair Darryl Mitchell, who said he didn't know of any locals who are scheduled to speak at the event.
County parties are prohibited by state law from endorsing primary candidates, and Mitchell said the party would support whoever wins the nomination, but he said voters have expressed concerns about Hines, who is in the process to moving to the district and plans to update his registration in time to vote for himself.
“Obviously, you hear a lot of stuff about him not living in the district,” Mitchell said. “You do hear that, but how much, it’s hard to tell.”