Last Updated on January 13, 2023
US Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) is facing an energized rebellion from within the North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) over his recent vote to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which could threaten his future campaigns with the state Republican party.
In November, Tillis voted in favor of a bill that party members have been furious over, and a few said on Tuesday during a group ‘call to action’ they want to officially censure him for the vote because it is the opposite of what he ran.
The angry party precinct leaders on the call said that they were betrayed because Tillis promised to stick to the North Carolina Republican Party platform of family values, which the Marriage Act destroys, they said.
The U.S. Senate’s version of the Respect for Marriage Act was being advocated by a bipartisan group promoting gender theories that the NCGOP disagrees with, and it passed its first test in mid-November with a lot of help from Tillis, according to Fox News, who reported:
“By a vote of 62-37, the Respect for Marriage Act. which would codify same-sex and interracial marriages, cleared the 60-vote hurdle to merit consideration by the full Senate without the threat of a filibuster.”
The only 12 Republicans who voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act: Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Cynthia Lummis, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Dan Sullivan, Thom Tillis, and Todd Young. Vote every other one out.
— Victor Shi (@Victorshi2020) November 16, 2022
Party members are very frustrated with Tillis, the embattled Senator, whose actions while in the Senate have ripped apart the party membership with his run to the left after getting to DC, as discussed on the “Twitter Spaces” public call for Precinct Chairs, this week.
“When Thom Tillis voted for same-sex “marriage,” he violated the NCGOP Platform and severely damaged the credibility of the party,” Isaac Burke, an NCGOP executive Precinct Leader, said.
Burke was the organizer of a Tuesday night Twitter Space, which was for party chairs to talk about their next moves pushing the top party leadership to issue the censure against Tillis.
Burke’s co-host in the Twitter Space was Michele Woodhouse, a party insider, and Henderson County precinct leader, who pushed to defend the grassroots’ values and wanted to censure Tillis over his recent vote because it betrayed the grassroots and their hard work on Tillis’s campaign.
The chairman of the NCGOP, Michael Whatley, according to numerous speakers in the space, told party members that he does not want to have a public censure of Tillis.
Whatley, who is up for re-election this year, is reported as saying he is against such a move because doing so will feed the Democrats and harm the party’s image.
The NCGOP chairwoman from Davie Country talked about her disappointment with Whatley, saying, “If the majority of chairmen in North Carolina want the party Chairman to censure Tillis and to take a stand, he needs to do that. He must do this.”
Woodhouse reminded the group that if the chairs got together and demanded a vote, it wouldn’t matter how Whatley felt about taking a public stand; they would have to vote.
At least 4 of the 100 counties have officially moved to censure Tillis and released statements.
The ‘best-kept secret’ about the North Carolina Republican Party that Tillis plans to primary firebrand Lt. Governor Mark Robinson for the Governor seat in 2024 was exposed in the Twitter space that night.
NCGOP Chairman Jim Womack, in Lee County, wants a censure with actual disciplinary action, denying Tillis some use of the party as a campaign machine.
Womack was not on the call at the time but later talked to National File about his official stand as chairman about the censure:
“If the ‘dereliction of duty’ charges against Senator Tillis are affirmed by 2/3 of our full Executive Committee, then Senator Tillis may be denied party support for seeking re-election or for seeking any other office for up to five years. He could be denied access to county Republican facilities and events.”
Womack shared the following censure documents with National File, including the Lee County Plan of Organization, the charge sheet against Tillis, and the cover letter Womack sent to Tillis in D.C.:Tillis_Letter_Charges
The next steps Womack takes could lead other counties to follow.
“On Feb 20th we will hear the charges and he is entitled to a defense. I will be acting as prosecutor and my retired magistrate, Sandra Jones, will be the Hearing Judge. The full Lee GOP Executive Committee will sit through this and one other hearing (on our former School Board Chair) and then decide what if any, punishments to impose,” Womack told National File.
Woodhouse talked about Womack’s plans and how the Censure could harm Tillis, who she says is planning to run again:
“A censure could hold Tillis back from running against Robinson, which is what Conservatives want because they feel that Thom Tillis is not really a Conservative,” Michele Woodhouse told the group, adding:
“The desire to censure is very strong within the rank-and-file Republicans. Tillis is voting against the Party Platform, and it is unacceptable to us, and we want to represent the grassroots people who are frustrated at Tillis as a betrayal with his votes. “
Woodhouse reminded the group that Tillis had lost a great deal of support from the party loyalists:
“We raised money for him in 2020, and he barely won. If it hadn’t been for zippergate for Cal Cuningham he wouldn’t have won; we worked hard and he betrayed us,” Woodhouse said.
As of Tuesday night, the counties that have voted to censure Tillis are Onslow, Graham, Grandville, and Lee. More are expected.
Grandville posted their Censor of both North Carolina Senators Tillis and retiring Richard Burr:
— Granville County GOP (@granville_gop) December 17, 2022
Woodhouse was focused on sticking to the party messaging, something Tillis has never done in all of his time in the US Senate, the Tuesday night callers agreed, and they are worried about what his next betrayal will be.
“We need to take steps to protect our platform. This is not the first time that Tillis has been too moderate and outside of the Republican platform. For example, marriage in our platform is clearly defined as one man and one woman,” Woodhouse said to the group. “Tillis has gone too far, and with his upcoming amnesty bill, he is planning more betrayal.”
National File broke the story about Tillis’s 2020 opponent, Democrat challenger Cal Cuningham: