By all accounts, Republican State Senator Lisa Barnes, R-Nash, representing Johnston and Nash Counties has a record of public service that is to be commended, even if you disagree with her political positions on healthcare, education, and the economy.
Outside of partisan politics, she works with the Coalition for Addiction and Recovery Education, brings faith and prayer to incarcerated women, and is working to improve local healthcare, broadband, and services for seniors through various boards and commissions.
Through her years of service in the NC Senate, state House and on the Nash County Board of Commissioners, she has worked to cut taxes for all citizens. She has also worked to reform corrupt local government practices and on important agriculture issues. She also supports the GOP legislative agenda of deregulation, supporting higher pay for teachers, school choice, and voter I.D.
It is expected that her Democratic opponent and the N.C. Democratic Party would attack her position on various issues from her past resistance to expanding Medicaid, on school choice, and taxes.
However, instead the North Carolina Democratic Party is telling voters to reject Sen. Barnes because she is a woman.
NC Democratic Party Mailer (NC Senate 11)
A constant flow of direct mail is hitting mailboxes across NC-Senate 11, which now includes all of Vance, Nash, and Franklin counties, telling voters they need a man in the N.C. Senate.
Barnes faces Democratic Franklin County Commissioner Mark Speed for the N.C. Senate’s District 11 seat representing Nash, Franklin, and Vance counties.
Specifically, the mailers say to elect Democrat Mark Speed, because he is a “working man.” This is doubly misogynist because it suggests Barnes does not work for a living. In fact, Barnes began her career as a real estate paralegal. She also worked in the Rocky Mount Planning and Development Department. Most importantly she is heavily involved in the family farming and agriculture business. I doubt she is out planting the soybeans and sweet potatoes, but she and her husband run a large farming business that at times employs hundreds of people. She works on the business side of a very difficult and volatile family business. She is also a citizen legislator. She certainly does not sit home and bake cookies. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
It’s not the first time the NC Democratic Party and or its Senate candidates have turned to sexism to try and win a race. In 2020, the Democratic nominee for State Senate 24 (Guilford, Alamance) was accused of using sexist and demeaning language in fundraising appeals.
Republican nominee Amy Galey wrote at the time, “It’s misogynistic and sexist trope to attack a female politician as ‘scared,’ but that’s exactly what my opponent did in a fundraising email yesterday. It’s sexism to characterize a woman leader as “scared” because it taps into deep assumptions about femininity and what it means to be a woman. It is sexist to imply that women don’t make good leaders because they get scared, and it is garbage. It’s this slippery kind of posturing that holds all women, progressive and conservative, back from breaking those glass ceilings.”
The voters of Alamance and Guilford County rejected these tactics and elected Republican Amy Galey to the State Senate where this year she stands for re-election.
However, in comments to CJ, it is clear she has not forgotten the attacks that were directed at her gender.
Any person can see this is a sexist dog whistle and we must make it clear that it will not be tolerated. All Democratic candidates should condemn this language and Gov. Roy Cooper should lead the way. Their silence is complicity and agreement with this misogynism. If a male Republican candidate said we need “a man,” people would justifiably be outraged — where’s the outrage when a male Democrat says it?
“My 2020 opponent said something similar— ‘a man with a plan.’ There was silence from the Democrats then, too. Democrat candidates must be held accountable for their sexist dog whistles.
We should be past this kind of gender-baiting.”
It is also worth noting that staunch North Carolina Democratic Party ally, the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP, accused Sen. Barnes and Democrat State Auditor Beth Wood of racism and white supremacy over Wood’s investigation of corruption in the Rocky Mount City Council and Barnes’ legislation intended to address it.
“The truth is that Beth Woods and Lisa Barnes, a Democrat and a Republican, respectively, are operating tactics and strategies out of the old 1898 racist playbook,” state NAACP president Anthony Spearman wrote in a memo posted on the group’s Facebook page and sent to the N.C. State Conference of Branches of the NAACP, as reported by Carolina Journal in June of 2021.
The Locke Foundation defended both women, including an article by Dr. Andy Jackson, stating the obvious: Fighting corruption is not racist.
It is worth noting that the North Carolina Democratic Party never condemned the baseless accusations and never defended their own Democratic auditor, indicating a willingness to stand by when one of the most respected female public servants in the state, and a fellow Democrat is brutally accused of the most horrible false allegations possible.
Republican voters in the district have a track record of rejecting these kinds of attacks. In 2020, as reported by Carolina Public Press, one of Barnes’s GOP primary opponents, allegedly attacked her fitness for office based on her being female. Barnes won the primary with 68% of the vote winning a strong majority of both male and female voters.
Vice Chairman of the Nash County Republican Party, Mary Helen Taylor told CJ that voters won’t fall for these attacks.
“The people of Nash County care about competent dedicated representation, not gender,” said Taylor. These attacks will backfire as they should.”