Tar Heel GOP Gem (Not)—Congressmember Patrick McHenry, Mr. Interim Speaker—October 8, 2023
Yes, there were dramatic doings in our political system just recently. These included the passing of CA Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein at age 90, a political icon who broke barriers for all women. And then, of course, spineless House Speaker, Bakersfield’s own, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted by eight members of the wacko “Freedumb” Caucus gang with the help of Democrats whom he gleefully and repeatedly shafted and double crossed. The GOP civil war for a new permanent Speaker has now begun in earnest showing the true party that is in utter disarray. While the GOPers pile on each other to put in their “two cents” to get a Speaker worth that pathetic sum, this political “clown car” at least appointed a “two cent” interim Speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry. McHenry, folks, is no “gem.” He’s just another McCarthy loyalist.
Please be patient with my putting up this and subsequent blogposts rather late. After my last blog on Cong. Mary Miller, I fell and fractured my left wrist and am now in a cast. Fortunately, I am able to type with my right hand, but it is hard. It will, however, take quite a bit of time to get these blogposts up. Now, let’s meet the latest GOP “figure of the week” (“weak”) Patrick McHenry.
Tenth-term N. Carolina GOP Congressmember Patrick McHenry (47) currently represents that state’s 10th Congressional District (CD). The Tar Heel 10th, as recently redistricted, includes mostly Catawba and Lincoln Counties which are closest to Charlotte. The radically redistricted 10th includes 30% of Forsyth County and contains a small piece of Winston Salem. About 70% of its constituency has changed, but the 10th remains solidly GOP with a Cook PVI of R+21. Donald clobbered Hillary by 24 percentage points. He beat Biden by a 37% margin. Furniture making and agriculture are the 10th’s economic pillars (Cohen & Cook 2022 Almanac).
Charlotte, NC native Patrick McHenry grew up in Cherryville, NC. Catholic McHenry graduated from Belmont Abbey College where he was active in the College Republicans. He became a real estate broker. A conservative Republican from the outset, he savagely made fun of Bill Clinton. McHenry worked on several GOP campaigns and in the Labor Department. He won a seat in the NC State House in 2002. In 2004, he won a race to Congress at age 29, and then was that body’s youngest member. He ran as a “pro-life,” “pro-gun,” and “anti-gay marriage” Christian (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In the House, McHenry started out as highly partisan and was deemed a GOP guerilla fighter. He made repeat appearances on GOP talk shows where he served up red meat to his rabid fans. He attacked then Speaker Nancy Pelosi and hung around with the anti-Obama racist “birther” movement. Later, he started to move up the GOP leadership ladder and was seen as an “up-and-comer.” He helped Charlotte banks and national financial institutions. He was the former chief deputy whip or key vote counter for Steve Scalise (R-LA). Scalise, of course, was nominated to replace Kevin McCarthy as the next GOP Speaker, but left that race when couldn’t get the needed 217 votes (Cohen &Cook 2022, cnn.com, 10/12/23). McHenry has a strong hard-right record with a 2019-2020 Cohen & Cook voting score of 31% Liberal v. 69% conservative. He is no political “gem.”
Too many pundits think of McHenry as a fellow who will not push the GOP further to the right. What are they smoking? Since the GOP still can’t get a new Speaker, there is talk of expanding McHenry’s interim powers. McHenry has easily been re-elected from his “blood-Red” Tar Heel 10th and will continue to be. The only way to check McHenry? In 2024, Democrats must come out in droves and take back the House which GOP McHenry and Company hold by just five votes. All elections count.