Dr. Greg Murphy, the conservative anti-establishment candidate in North Carolina’s third congressional district, crushed the establishment-backed Dr. Joan Perry on his way to winning the GOP nomination for the special election Tuesday night in what amounted to a proxy battle inside the Republican Party.
With 100 percent reporting, Murphy won 59.7 percent of the vote to Perry’s 40.3 percent–a resounding nearly 20-point victory. The primary runoff election on Tuesday came after Murphy and Perry were the top-two vote-getters in the recent primary, but neither won enough to avoid the runoff. The runoff election became a proxy battle inside the GOP, with a number of GOP establishment organizations and politicians from Washington, D.C., throwing their weight behind Perry while Murphy won the support of grassroots conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus as well as other pro-Trump organizations.
Congratulations to @DrGregMurphy1 on winning the Republican nomination in #NC03! Dr. Murphy is a strong #MAGA conservative in the mold of my friend @MarkMeadows. Look forward to heading down to NC to hit the trail with you before the General Election in September!
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2019
Big Night in #NC03! Called @DrGregMurphy1 to congratulate him on his victory. He’ll be a great member of Congress & a champion for President @realDonaldTrump’s agenda!
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) July 10, 2019
The district has a special election this year because longtime Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a perennial thorn in the establishment’s side, passed away earlier this year opening up the seat. The Republican nominee, now Murphy, is expected to easily win the special election in the heavily-Republican district in the fall.
House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)–the organization’s founding chairman–both heavily backed Murphy in the race. Murphy is expected to join the Freedom Caucus assuming he is elected.
“Dr. Greg Murphy made a decision to side with the forgotten man and woman, support President Trump and trust that large sums of special interest money would not command the most support at the ballot box,” Meadows told Breitbart News on Tuesday evening. “His decision was rewarded on Tuesday night as it will be each and every day he chooses to support North Carolina values over DC special interests. His servant’s heart won the day.”
Women For Trump, a pro-Trump women’s group, also backed Murphy in the race.
Congrats to @DrGregMurphy1 winning #NC03’s special election!
This is a win for the #MAGA movement & @realDonaldTrump over the swamp!
The #womancard is not going to be used against us in order to add to the #nevertrump caucus. #NC03 #NC3 #NCgop #NCpolitics #ncpol #GOP #KAG pic.twitter.com/zjO9OHOMjB
— Women for Trump (@WomenforTrump) July 10, 2019
But perhaps the more interesting part of this story is who backed Perry, the other candidate, and what she stood for during the primary. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a very establishment Republican close with former House Speaker Paul Ryan, was very active in supporting Perry.
NY Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, one of the 13 women in House GOP conference on #NC03 GOP primary runoff win, Greg Murphy over Joan Perry https://t.co/Rj4HvRqyLU
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) July 10, 2019
A group linked with Stefanik, Winning For Women, and other establishment organizations spent more than a million dollars combined pushing Perry’s candidacy.
Thanks to @drjoanperry for having the courage to raise your hand and step into the arena. I am proud to have supported your campaign alongside all of my #GOPWomen colleagues, @SBAList @RightNowWomen @VIEWPAC @WinningForWomen
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) July 10, 2019
“Winning For Women spent about $900,000 on Perry’s behalf. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, a native of Greenville, was in the district on Election Day, hoping to turn out the vote for Perry. Women Speak Out, the group’s partner PAC, spent more than $310,000 on Perry’s behalf,” the Raleigh News and Observer reported on Tuesday evening.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings demonstrate that the GOP establishment mega-donor Paul Singer, among others, has significantly financially backed the Stefanik-linked organization:
The Winning for Women Action Fund, which has been spending big to boost Republican candidate Joan Perry in the #NC03 runoff, got $500,000 each from Paul Singer & Warren Stephens, with Charles Schwab kicking in another $250,000.https://t.co/EpbNnxx1oC pic.twitter.com/9RhKwYlP4n
— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) June 27, 2019
The Raleigh News and Observer story noted too just how much of the GOP establishment–mixed with some conservatives–was supporting Perry’s campaign:
Perry was backed by all 13 GOP women in the U.S. House, including Reps. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Elise Stefanik of New York. Other high-profile Republican women like Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin also endorsed Perry. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recorded a robocall for Perry.
North Carolina Reps. George Holding and Patrick McHenry supported her campaign, which got significant investment from two outside groups — the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List and Winning For Women, a group dedicated to electing more conservative women to Congress.
But the broader narrative was set early in the race, as Breitbart News reported back on May 1 on how she had previously endorsed Democrats for Congress and how she opposed President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build the border wall. The ads from Winning for Women and flying into the district from other establishment groups also came under fire, as Breitbart News reported on throughout the race.
Murphy also appeared on Breitbart News radio on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel multiple times over the course of the campaign:
Then, when Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)–the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee–issued a rogue subpoena to Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s eldest son, Murphy was one of the first conservatives in North Carolina to call out his home state senator, as Breitbart News reported at the time. The intense blowback on Burr, in part because of people like Murphy calling him out, caused Burr to limit the timeframe in which Trump, Jr., would be forced to testify again and the scope of questions.
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