As N.C. Republicans grappled with how to respond to Sen. Richard Burr’s surprise vote to convict former President Trump, the leading GOP prospects for Burr’s seat in 2022 had starkly different reactions, with sharp differences in tone.
Former Congressman Mark Walker, the one announced Republican candidate seeking to replace the retiring three-term senator, was quick to pounce and attack.
Walker took to Twitter to disagree with Burr’s vote, writing, “Wrong vote, Sen. Burr. I am running to replace Richard Burr because North Carolina needs a true conservative champion as their next senator.”
Walker sent the tweet just minutes after Burr’s vote became public.
Walker spoke with CNN about the race, Trump and his condemnation of the Burr vote.
“Where there are some places to create some separation on what I believe, I am going to continue to do it, but at the same time, I am a big enough person to separate the policies from the person.”
On his Charlotte area radio show, former Gov. Pat McCrory criticized both Republicans and Democrats for failing to hold anarchists on the left and the right accountable for the violence in American cities this summer and at the Capitol.
“The rush to quickly impeach and to complete a trial of our former president has only further divided our country,” McCrory said. “This happened while our current ‘Uniter President’ sat on the sidelines and let it happen while deflecting attention away from some of the most radical executive orders in our nation’s history and ignoring the most serious question: Why are political leaders afraid to investigate anarchists from the left and right?”
U.S. Rep. Ted Budd said, “I disagree with Senator Burr’s vote, and the hardworking volunteers of the N.C. GOP are rightfully upset by it. All of us in elected leadership are accountable to our consciences, the Constitution, and our constituents. The sooner we unite behind our conservative ideals the better. So, let’s get to work building on the timeless principles of America First.”
CNN also linked current N.C. GOP Chairman Michael Whatley to a possible 2022 Senate bid. Whatley was the first to criticize Burr, but he did so on behalf of the state Republican Party.
“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution, and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” Whatley said.
Whatley has tried to walk a tightrope, however, acknowledging Burr’s years of service to the party.
“Richard Burr has been a leader in the North Carolina Republican Party for over 20 years; he will continue to be a leader in the North Carolina Republican Party,” Whatley told CNN‘s John Bergman on Tuesday morning. “I don’t think this is a statement against Richard Burr as a senator, I think this is a statement that we disagree with that particular vote.”