2019 was a shameful year for the Republican Party at the state level, as evidenced by the dozens of GOP legislators who have announced they won’t be running for reelection in 2020. Republicans lost control of the Virginia House and Senate, experienced leadership failures across the country, and were constantly weighed down by the sinking ship that is the President of the United States. Here are some of the GOP’s most outrageous moments of the year.
5. North Carolina Republicans Hold Surprise Budget Vote on 9/11
On the morning of September 11, after lying to Democrats that there would be no votes held, Republicans in the North Carolina House jammed an override of the Democratic governor’s budget veto through a half-empty chamber. Republicans were well prepared for their scheme, ensuring they had 55 Republican members in attendance and only 12 Democrats, just enough for a quorum. There were no news cameras and few, if any, reporters in the chamber as they were covering the 9/11 memorial ceremony. “How dare you subject this body to trickery, deceptive practices — hijacking the process,” yelled Democratic Rep. Deb Butler, who gained national praise for her outrage on the House floor. In a press conference following the shameless vote, Butler stated, “I’m so very disappointed that the Republicans would stoop to this level. If you could have seen the smirking, the rib poking, the grinning, the thrill of victory when you have intentionally misled our leader, that is despicable behavior.” The motive behind their scheme was equally, if not more, sinister: to block Medicaid expansion and stop hundreds of thousands of people from accessing health care.
Republicans in North Carolina used a 9/11 memorial to trick Democrats into missing a key vote pic.twitter.com/6IF0PJd3t7— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 11, 2019
4. Republican State Leadership Committee in Chaos
Our Republican counterparts are in total crisis after their devastating losses in Virginia, Kentucky, and Louisiana. A recent expose by Politico revealed that the RSLC “has seen an exodus of top staff in recent months, has lagged behind its Democratic counterpart in fundraising and is struggling to explain why its new president, Austin Chambers, was also moonlighting as a general consultant for Louisiana businessman Eddie Rispone’s failed bid for governor.” Brutal. Chambers, the 24 year old who was hired in April after being mired in scandal involving disgraced former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, was seemingly more preoccupied with earning a paycheck for outside work than running his committee. Just one of the many reasons why they’ve been losing.
3. President Trump’s Garbage Approval Ratings
Unfortunately for Republicans, Donald Trump is the head of their party and his dripping toxicity taints candidates all the way down the ballot. Ahead of the 2019 Virginia elections, Trump’s reelection campaign leaked a poll showing him losing the commonwealth by as much as 17 points, making the president persona non grata in the most competitive race of the year. Republican candidates were even avoiding associating themselves with Vice President Mike Pence, who was sent in the president’s place to rally voters in the competitive Virginia Beach area. Republicans who try to brand themselves as “moderates” are outed by the fact that they refuse to criticize the president’s hateful rhetoric and policies, even ones that explicitly hurt their constituents. It’s going to be hard for state Republicans to distance themselves from the president in 2020 when he’s leading the ticket.
2. Texas Republicans in Disarray
With Democrats only nine seats away from taking control of the Texas House, state Republicans are spiraling into chaos as member after member announced they would not run for reelection. Even House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced he wouldn’t seek reelection after he was exposed targeting members of his own party and telling the truth about Trump’s harmful effects on the GOP. Democrats flipped 12 Texas House seats in 2018 and are now targeting 20 House seats that were decided by less than 10 points, including the nine GOP-held districts that Beto O’Rourke won in his Senate race — a clear path to victory that has Republicans terrified. Everything’s about to be bluer in Texas.
1. Virginia GOP Squashes Gun Violence Legislation
The Republicans have no one but themselves to blame for losing the Virginia House and Senate after they blocked all commonsense gun safety legislation, making gun reform the number one issue for voters ahead of the election. After a tragic mass shooting in Virginia Beach this summer, Republicans closed a special session on gun violence after only 90 minutes, an affront to the victims and their families. The National Rifle Association, which is based in Virginia, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to vulnerable Republicans, a clear reward for standing with the NRA over constituents. But no amount of money could cover up the disgust that voters had for Republican leaders over their inaction on gun violence. In 2020, Republicans up and down the ballot will continue paying the price for refusing to make our communities safer.