The people of south-central North Carolina narrowly voted to elect anti-LGBTQ State Senator Dan Bishop to the House of Representatives on September 10 in a special election that was triggered by fraud in the midterm race last year.
Bishop, who was the mastermind behind the state’s abhorrent bathroom bill, eked out a two-point victory over Democrat Dan McCready. It was the district’s second attempt at the 2018 congressional race after that election was not certified following revelations that a campaign staffer for then-Republican candidate Mark Harris committed ballot fraud. Harris, who finished the midterm race against McCready with a 905-vote lead, opted not to run again this time around.
Republicans in the state rejoiced as Bishop was crowned champion, but the tight nature of the contest served as a warning sign for President Donald Trump and the GOP after the party’s nominees in the last two presidential races won the district by 12 points and former Republican Congressmember Robert Pittenger comfortably won the seat by 16 points in 2016.
But for now, Bishop will bring his bigotry with him to Capitol Hill after championing the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act of 2016, which sunk the state into isolation and generated national outrage. The wide-ranging bill wiped out local nondiscrimination measures and forced people to use bathrooms aligned with their birth certificate-designated sex in a state where transgender people have not been allowed to alter their birth certificates unless they undergo gender reassignment surgery. Various states, including New York, subsequently banned public travel to North Carolina in response.
Even after he engulfed the state in flames with his bathroom bill, Bishop was undaunted by the exodus of businesses fed up with the state’s passage of the intolerant bill. The legislation scared away corporate interests like PayPal, which did away with plans to bring 400 jobs to Charlotte.
During the campaign, Bishop aligned himself with Trump, who stumped for him the day before the election. The pair spoke together at a rally in July when supporters of the president erupted in outrageous chants about Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, saying, “send her back!”
As if Bishop’s candidacy couldn’t get any fringier, he has documented ties to North Carolina-based far-right LGBTQ group dubbed Deplorable Pride. That group endorsed him and wound up getting caught up in his ties to white supremacy when he was defending the racist group known as Proud Boys, saying that they offered protection to Deplorable Pride at public events.
Bishop’s looming work on Capitol Hill will likely reflect Trump’s anti-LGBTQ political platform. The president patted himself on the back on the evening of Bishop’s victory.
“Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago,” Trump tweeted. “He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race.”
The race was one of two Congressional special election competitions in the state on the same day. State Representative Greg Murphy, a Republican, nabbed the House of Representatives seat in the Third Congressional District after it was left vacant following the death of Congressmember Walter Jones, Jr., earlier in the year. Murphy cruised to victory, topping Democrat Allen Thomas by a 71 percent to 37 percent margin.