When Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina announced his retirement, we sensed something was off. Yes, the Republicans are hardly optimistic about their chances of winning back the House, but Meadows is a bit different because he’s hardly what you’d call a moderate, and he’s well known as one of Donald Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress, not exactly someone who quietly speaks out against Trump from time to time. He’s also from a pretty solidly red district in an otherwise swing state, so it’s not like he would face a tough re-election campaign for being a Trump apologist.
As it turns out, not facing a tough re-election was actually part of his plan all along. While Meadows is no longer running, he’s still very much active in the 2020 Republican campaign for his seat. On Monday morning, he revealed his endorsement for Republican activist Lynda Bennett, who just happens to be a close friend of Meadows’ wife, and also runs a PAC to support female candidates whose values are in line with the House Freedom Caucus. Bennett also timed her announcement within hours of Meadows announcing his retirement, and her campaign website, registered by Meadows’ brother, took off immediately after.
While Meadows said he was leaving to take on an unspecified role in Trump’s administration, he apparently never consulted the North Carolina GOP about his abrupt decision to retire – even leaving open the possibility he won’t finish his term. As you can imagine, the party isn’t especially happy, considering one state senator was hoping for Meadows’ endorsement and failed to file for re-election so he could run.
It’s gotten so bad that according to the story in Politico, a Republican operative in the state has admitted that “Meadows screwed everybody.” A number of Republicans looking to advance their careers suddenly feel betrayed – estimating that 15% of Republicans in the statehouse had their eyes on Meadows’ seat. While this isn’t necessarily how every Republican retirement will play out in the months ahead, it’s safe to expect a number of other retirements leading up to Trump’s impeachment trial, and a whole lot more infighting leading up to primary season to take their places.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making