On Tuesday, following seven votes on other bills, the North Carolina House introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas for the terrorist attacks and vowing to support Israel. Rather than vote yes or no, twelve House Democrats walked out of the chamber. This has led to more questions over whether the N.C. Democratic Party is divided on supporting Israel.
The Carolina Journal captured a photo of two House Democrats waiting outside the chamber and witnessed several others walking around the legislative building during the vote. The Democrats who remained in the chamber voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, as did all Republicans. House Joint Resolution 897 ultimately passed 104-0.
The official House record confirms each Democrat was marked as “not voting”: Rep. John Autry, D-Mecklenburg; Rep. Amber Baker, D-Forsyth; Rep. Gloristine Brown, D-Pitt; Rep. Kanika Brown, D-Forsyth; Rep. Maria Cervania, D-Wake; Rep. Terence Everitt, D-Wake; Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford; Rep. Nasif Majeed, D-Mecklenburg; Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham; Rep. Renee Price, D-Orange; Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams, D-Cabarrus; and Rep. Julie von Haefen, D-Wake.
After facing significant backlash from constituents and fellow Democrats, some of the twelve released statements.
Reps. Autry and Majeed have not issued any public statements regarding their choice to walk out of the vote.
Reps. Amber Baker, Gloristine Brown, Kanika Brown, Harrison, Price, and Staton-Williams only spoke to select media outlets regarding their decision to walk out for the vote.
House Speaker Tim Moore’s chief of staff said that one-quarter of the Democratic caucus walked out for the vote to support Israel. There are 48 Democratic members of the House, four of which were absent on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Moore decided to lower the legislative building flags to half-mast in honor of the over 1,200 people who died at the hands of Hamas over the weekend. He also called out his Democratic colleagues for walking out on the vote.
“For most of us, this was a simple choice: Denounce evil or walk away,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, 12 of our members chose to take a walk. I chose to take a stand.”
Earlier this year, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a resolution celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary as a nation-state and “reaffirm[ing] its enduring support for Israel as Israel pursues peace with its neighbors.”
One Democrat, Pricey Harrison, voted no, while two others, Terence Everitt and Marcia Morey, abstained.
The state Senate did not hold a vote but instead signed a letter condemning Hamas and supporting Israel. All present Senate Democrats signed the letter—with four notable exceptions.
The four Senate Democrats who refused to sign onto the Senatorial statement condemning Hamas were Sens. Mujtaba Mohammad, D-Mecklenburg, Graig Meyer, D-Orange, Julie Mayfield, D-Buncombe, and Natalie Murdock, D-Durham.
Senate Republicans called them out for choosing to “hide behind silence as the terrorist group Hamas commits crimes against humanity,” per a press release.
Republican leaders also called on Gov. Roy Cooper, Attorney General Stein, and Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton to “denounce their silence.”
Senate Democrats issued a statement on Thursday morning saying that Republicans’ “attacks” were “politically motivated.” However, the statement gave no explanation for why the four chose not to sign the letter.
The letter, shown below, was signed by a bipartisan coalition of the other 45 present state senators, which included all Republicans and fifteen out of 20 Democrats. One senator, Mike Woodard, D-Durham, was absent and unable to sign.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican, called a press conference shortly after becoming active governor to call for a “Day of Prayer” to support Israel. However, his Republican colleague and State Treasurer Dale Folwell did not appreciate what he called a “stunt” by Robinson.
“You have regrettably seized the opportunity to engage in a stunt with dubious authority as acting governor during a brief interlude while Gov. Cooper is overseas conducting state business,” Folwell said. “How can you pretend to be governor when the record is clear that you haven’t done your job as lieutenant governor? As a person who has shamefully denied the Holocaust and whose history is checkered with hateful anti-Semitic comments, you have no right to be commenting on this topic.”
Gov. Cooper’s office released a statement condemning Robinson’s use of time as the active governor.
“It’s tragically ironic that someone with a long history of hate speech against Jewish people would take advantage of death and destruction in Israel for his own political purposes,” a Cooper spokesperson said.
Last year, North Carolina Jewish clergy leaders called out the North Carolina Democratic Party for anti-Israel resolutions that were considered at the party convention.